Quickies

Skepchick Quickies 10.22

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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136 Comments

  1. Cancer kid is a bad argument for a good cause. This kid is going to be a punching bag for every infection that comes his way not just the ones we can vaccinate against. It’s just irresponsible to send him to group babysitting every day. In a year or two he’ll have won against leukemia or lost. I he wins he’ll have plenty of time to get vaccinated before going to school.

    There are plenty of more compelling reasons for vaccinations. I’m sorry so much attention is be paid to this one.

  2. @davew:

    I disagree.

    Unless they are going to put this kid in a bubble, then yes, it’s true he’s going to be susceptible to a whole host of infections. And we don’t know what other options are available to that particular family — maybe both parent have to work. You could turn this case into an argument in the heath care debate.

    But this is a herd immunity issue — deliberately destroying herd immunity has direct consequences for people like this.

    The point isn’t really this one kid. This is an example of the problem. Putting a leukemia victim undergoing chemo front-and-center will force people to weigh that person’s life against whatever antivaxxer bullshit they’ve swallowed. It’s a much more powerful image than waving medical studies around.

  3. The vaccination story is wrong all over. A reasonable argument that a daycare or school should not allow unvaccinated children to attend would apply to this kid as well. The reason for being unvaccinated doesn’t change the effects of having unvaccinated attendees. This kid attending would then become the reason why the next immunocompromised child cannot attend.

    As @davew points out, the vaccination status of the other children isn’t the major concern here. Just the close proximity to all these other children would produce a sever onslaught of immune challenges. So this parent is arguing that every other parent should bend tho their will, for the sake of their sick child, but neither she nor her husband can make the sacrifice of staying home with the child? If the child has a potentially life-ending illness, why would you be looking for an acceptable kennel in which to store it for the majority of your waking hours? Wouldn’t you make great sacrifices to be able to spend more time together?

    I am a Hedge

  4. @phlebas:

    The point isn’t really this one kid. This is an example of the problem. Putting a leukemia victim undergoing chemo front-and-center will force people to weigh that person’s life against whatever antivaxxer bullshit they’ve swallowed. It’s a much more powerful image than waving medical studies around.

    If your goal is rhetoric for more effective propaganda, then you are probably correct. That is a separate issue from the merits of the argument.

    I am a Hedge

  5. @phlebas: I agree.

    The vaccination argument is such an emotionally charged one that I think it’s worthwhile to put stories such as these out there. It may not be enough to stop the most ardent antivaxxers but I think a strong emotional argument such as this can be enough to cause people on the fence to reconsider the options.

  6. The cancer kid story is exactly the kind of thing what we need. Yes, it’s only one case out of millions. And as we all know, you can’t draw any conclusions from just one case.

    But it’s exactly the kind of story they respond to. Even if its a bad argument. Bad arguments can’t be used to prove anything. But they can be used to demonstrate.

    The other side does it all the time. And they shut out detractors when they’re called out on it. That’s the game they play, and that’s the rules we have to play by to get their attention. Once you have their attention, you have the re-enforcement on your side to keep it.

    The bad arguments can still be used to state the case, and the good arguments used to back it up. Most times people don’t read past the abstract anyway.

  7. @w_nightshade:
    Wouldn’t it be better if the propaganda were based on sound arguments? Isn’t there a benefit to maintaining intellectual integrity in this? Do you want to hand the anti-vaxers such easily deconstructed arguments?

    You should get vaccinated for your own good. You should get your children vaccinated for their own good.

    Isn’t it better to focus on these points? Do people care more about themselves and their own children, or some anonymous other-kid-somewhere-who-may-get-sick?

    If you want the emotional appeal, find stories of a child dying from whooping cough (etc.), because that child’s parents failed to vaccinate.

    I am a Hedge

  8. @Amanda: The vaccination argument is such an emotionally charged one that I think it’s worthwhile to put stories such as these out there.

    The problem is this steps on two hot button issues, and the people who are against parents warehousing their children will get stuck on that and miss the vaccine message. I think babies too young to get vaccinated becoming gravely ill makes a much better emotional and logical case for everyone.

  9. I think the vaccination story was just fine. The important thing is that this unvaccinated child won’t be at the daycare or at home 24 hours a day. Going to daycare is pretty routine for a lot of people, just like eventually going to school, or going to a grocery store. The point I got from this story is that you can encounter unvaccinate children anywhere unless you never leave your house. Of course cancer patients will be exposed to other things, but that’s just one more reason to protect them from diseases that are easily preventable by mass vaccination.

  10. 1) And THIS is one of the major reasons that I’M planning to get the swine flu vaccine if it is available. I don’t want to get the flu, but I also don’t want to be exposed and then expose my nieces and nephews or my grandmother, all of whom are in the riskiest groups and will likely, for one reason or another, not be vaccinated themselves.

    2) Maybe someone should run him down for being too Westernized, too, since he seems to have a few double cheeseburgers hiding in his cheeks…

    3) I got nothing.

    4) Is this like that magic “death cat” that used to sit on those about to die (and we salute you…)?

  11. Application of magic death cat in this context would be difficult. You’d have to pair each operator with their own death cat, who would be responsible for listening to an initial call and then sitting on the phone to predict impending doom. The algorithm is both more efficient and less sheddy.

  12. Oh my god, Arizona. We’ve been hearing about Sheriff Joe (ON CNN) for days now, and now this?!

    My state, why you so crazy.

    And why haven’t I heard about this yet? Ugh I’ve been too busy. I’m afraid to read the comments over at azcentral.com.

  13. That XMRV is nasty stuff. Appears to be serum-transmitted. I recently read that a significant percentage of Chronic Fatigue sufferers had medical procedures that involved a blood transfusion, shortly before exhibiting symptoms. There’s also some speculation of it being sexually transmitted.

  14. @Im a Hedge: Wanting other parents to get their kids vaccinated vs. quitting a job to stay at home with the sick kid is a pretty disproportionate comparison. That’s not demanding that they “bend to their will”, it’s asking for plain decency.

    @Im a Hedge:

    You should get vaccinated for your own good. You should get your children vaccinated for their own good.

    But that’s not the entirety of it – you should also get vaccinated for the sake of the immunocompromised. You should also get vaccinated for the sake of the people who cannot get vaccinated for legitimate medical reasons. Why can’t some people talk about those things too?

  15. @Im a Hedge: Note that there are two types of vaccine exemptions given by doctors – medical and philosophical. The article claims that the philosophical exemptions have become a no-barrier loophole for selfish or quackish parents. Just say the magic words “philosophical exemption” and the doctor automatically hands you one immediately and without challenge.

    So, this is why I can’t call the article “wrong all over.” In this case, one child’s bogus philosophical exemption is trumping another child’s valid medical exemption. Is this O.K.?

    One commenter below the article thus suggests that medically-exempted kids should bump philosophically-exempted kids out of daycare slots, rather than the other way around. That opens some new problems, but I understand what motivated the commenter to say this.

  16. @Im a Hedge:

    If the child has a potentially life-ending illness, why would you be looking for an acceptable kennel in which to store it for the majority of your waking hours? Wouldn’t you make great sacrifices to be able to spend more time together?

    NO, that’s not how it works. You want the child to have as normal of a life as possible, not lock them up inside until they wither away.

    A friend of mine has a child with leukemia. She, the mother, had to decide if she would let her child go to school this year, her child who LOVES school, who THRIVES in school. She was scared, and rightfully so, because of H1N1 — what if her child got it? Even the normal flu could potentially be fatal for her child.

    In the end, she decided to send her child to school — because she knew that’s where her child wanted to be, not at home locked up like some leper.

    It’s a personal decision to be made by the child’s parents, full stop.

    And a school isn’t a “kennel”, it’s a place for children to grow and learn!

  17. @Im a Hedge:

    You should get vaccinated for your own good. You should get your children vaccinated for their own good.

    And I’m sorry, but that argument is far too simple. Vaccinations aren’t JUST for the good of the person getting the vaccination — what about herd immunity? Are you just ignoring it for the sake of your argument>

    I agree with ekimbrough’s argument of bogus philosophical exemption vs valid medical exemption.

    It’s not the fault of those with an illness that some parents won’t vaccinate their children. It’s not like these anti-vaxxers are using logic.

  18. @Im a Hedge:

    If your goal is rhetoric for more effective propaganda, then you are probably correct. That is a separate issue from the merits of the argument.

    I don’t get how herd immunity is a seperate issue from the merits of vaccination, though, and that’s what you seem to be implying.

  19. A pretty simple way to deal with this would be through the cost of health insurance. If your daycare accepts children unvaccinated because of philosophical exemption, then increase the cost of health insurance for the staff and families that use that daycare.

    That would translate into charging children unvaccinated because of a philosophical exemption more to cover the increased costs to everyone else. How about requiring that family to post a bond that would cover the cost of an epidemic in the school?

  20. @QuestionAuthority: Are you suggesting it should be prosecuted as a hate crime? It seems to have the earmarks. I’m just wondering what he expected; moving to a different country with a different culture is likely to result in kids growing up in the local culture. “When in Rome” and all that.

    Sadly though, there’s a fair chance that he moved here because we screwed up Iraq too much for him to feel safe there. If that were true I could feel some sympathy for the guy, but not enough to absolve him for his crime.

    Until we know more details I will just be happy that his daughter survived, and sad that this incident will fuel negative stereotypes.

  21. The Cancer Kid himself may be a somewhat more emotional argument than rational, but he goes into something even more important to note: the number of places you can run into an unvaccinated kid when you’re immunosuppressed (or overtaxed).

    I run to the store, myself suffering from a 101 degree fever. Need some drugs to make me forget I have a 101 fever, and help with the cough that is threatening to expel my lungs. While there, I run into the Germ Farm: family of non-vaxxers. Now, I’m already sick, and while I’m well immunized, a taxed immune system is going to be vulnerable to whatever this family has decided to let their children marinate in. Or what if my niece (now just over 1) goes to the store with her Mom? Meghan’s too young for a number of vaccinations, but she’s not too young to get sick from these selfish, deluded douchebags.

    This is why I support punching anti-vaxxers in the face. They put my nieces in danger with the ignorant ass-hattery. You want to threaten me, fine, but if you put my nieces in danger, I will feed your goddamn corpse to my cat.

  22. @jtradke:
    You can say to a parent, “you should expose your child to some amount of risk, X, to reduce the risk my child faces by some amount Y”. Each parent will have a different ratio of X:Y where this becomes acceptable to them. Whether a particular trade-off is acceptable then becomes a matter of the particular values of X and Y. In the vaccine case, these values are the issue. An anti-vax parent thinks X is a large risk to their child. Some of them also think that Y is a small reduction in risk to the other child. So what they hear is, “you should expose your child to a large risk, to slightly reduce the risk faced by my child”. Clearly a bad bargain.

    You have to address directly the actual risk of the vaccine versus the actual risk of not being vaccinated. I think the more effective argument will be focused on the risks to the child being vaccinated. Rather than the bargain above, I would offer, “you should expose your child to some amount of risk, X, to reduce the risk your child faces by some amount Y.” As long as Y is greater than X, this will always be a good idea for the parent, whereas in the deal above, Y can be significantly greater than X and the parent will still decide against it (one’s own child is more valuable than another child). I think the cause of increasing vaccination levels is best served by focusing on convincing parents that it is in the best interest of themselves and their children to vaccinate.

    You can use emotional appeals, but you should still take care that they are focused on the correct questions: What is the risk of being vaccinated? What is the risk of not being vaccinated?

    But that’s not the entirety of it – you should also get vaccinated for the sake of the immunocompromised. You should also get vaccinated for the sake of the people who cannot get vaccinated for legitimate medical reasons. Why can’t some people talk about those things too?

    People can talk about these things, but I think it is a far weaker argument. Here, you are appealing to people to make a sacrifice for the benefit of others. Not only that, but you are asking them to sacrifice the health of their children for the benefit of the health of other children. That’s a much harder sell, and you still have to deal with the question of the actual risk associated with the vaccination. I think the benefits to other people are best added as a positive side effect of protecting yourself and your own children. I think this will be a much more effective argument.

    I am a Hedge

  23. @marilove:

    NO, that’s not how it works. You want the child to have as normal of a life as possible, not lock them up inside until they wither away.

    Are you suggesting that a child that does not go to daycare does not have a normal life?

    I am a Hedge

  24. @Zapski: I wouldn’t call the perception that many conservative male Muslims treat their female children and spouses like chattel and on rare occasion some individual Muslims do serious harm or cause the death of a female child a stereotype. It seems a fairly accurate observation. And it seems to me of no consequence as to why this nut job is in this country. He is deserving of absolutely no sympathy in my opinion, and should get a prison sentence appropriate for attempted murder.

  25. @ekimbrough:

    @Im a Hedge: Note that there are two types of vaccine exemptions given by doctors – medical and philosophical. The article claims that the philosophical exemptions have become a no-barrier loophole for selfish or quackish parents. Just say the magic words “philosophical exemption” and the doctor automatically hands you one immediately and without challenge.

    There are good reasons to not get vaccinated and there are bad reasons to not get vaccinated. Whether the reason is good or bad depends on the risk/benefit ratio. Most of the current anti-vax attitude is based on a false understanding of the risks and benefits. People overestimate the risks and underestimate the benefits. I think this should be the primary focus when dealing with anti-vax concerns.

    Regarding the daycare argument as presented in the Slate article, the reason why a child is not vaccinated is not relevant to the danger that child poses to other children at the center. If a daycare center adopted a policy that requires attendees to be vaccinated, as a means of reducing the risk of disease transmission to the other clients, then an immunocompromised child who cannot be vaccinated would also fall under this policy and should not be allowed to attend. The fact that they have a good reason for not being vaccinated does not change the level of risk they pose to the other children.

    I am a Hedge

  26. @Im a Hedge: I never said that. However, your calling daycare a “kennel” just shows me your negative bias toward daycare. My nephew thrived in daycare. Daycare can be a great place for young children to learn and grow.

    Further, do you think all parents with sick children should just up and quit their job, otherwise they are horrible parents who send their sick children to “kennels”? What if the parent can’t afford to do that? What then?

  27. @Im a Hedge: Also, what of children who are in kindergarten, first grade, and beyond? This isn’t an issue that’s only going to come up in daycare, you know. And kindergarten and on IS essential for children to have normal lives, unless the parents are willing and able to home school them, which isn’t an option most of the time.

    Let’s pretend there is a similar child who is in 1st grade. What’s your opinion, then?

  28. I disagree Hedge. A child from a family where all of the children are unvaccinated is a greater danger than a child from a family where all the other children are vaccinated but the child isn’t because of a true medical exemption. A child from a family that is part of an anti-vax community is a much greater danger than a child from a family that is not part of an anti-vax community.

    Vaccines are given at certain ages. Children younger than that age are unvaccinated.

    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/schedules/downloads/child/2009/09_0-6yrs_schedule_pr.pdf

    If children were barred from daycare solely due to vaccination status, with out the “medically recommended” qualification, then children younger than 12 months can’t be in daycare because MMR, varicella, and hep A, can’t be administered before 12 months. Meningococcal can’t be administered before 2 years. If you add the “as medically recommended” caveat, then all children that are up to date in their vaccinations or with a valid medical exemption are eligible for daycare. It is only the free-loader anti-vaxers who are not.

    I don’t at all have a problem with that.

  29. @marilove:

    I never said that.

    So we agree that the issue of whether or not the child attends daycare is not relevant to having a normal life. I only mentioned it, as that appeared to be your objection to the idea that one of the parents would care for the child directly, rather than send the child to daycare.

    However, your calling daycare a “kennel” just shows me your negative bias toward daycare. My nephew thrived in daycare. Daycare can be a great place for young children to learn and grow.

    Any biases I might have are irrelevant to the points I present. I could just as well charge you with a pro-daycare bias based on your personal experience via your nephew. This would, of course, have no bearing on the merit of any actual arguments you may choose to present. You should also take care to distinguish between positions I am specifically forwarding, as opposed to positions I am assuming to be held by a significant portion of the target audience for the argument. In this case, the target audience is parents who are reluctant to vaccinate their children. This position is correlated with many other positions, and an effective argument will have to take some of these correlated positions into account.

    Further, do you think all parents with sick children should just up and quit their job, otherwise they are horrible parents who send their sick children to “kennels”?

    Surely you don’t expect me to bite on your hyperbolic strawman?

    What if the parent can’t afford to do that? What then?

    Quality daycare is generally expensive. One must be earning a descent salary just to break even. I assume that most parents would assign some value to being with their children, and would need to earn significantly more than the cost of the daycare in order to decide to go that route. Given the likelihood that both of the parents are earning enough to justify the cost of daycare, they would be in a position to make the sacrifices necessary loose one of the incomes in order for one of the parents to care for the child. We are, after all, talking about caring for your own child with a serious life-threatening disease.

    I am a Hedge

  30. @marilove: This isn’t an issue that’s only going to come up in daycare, you know. And kindergarten and on IS essential for children to have normal lives…

    This particular case is about daycare which is why I think it’s a bad pole to pitch a tent on.

    This reminds me of a case a few years back where some kids were expelled for causing a riot at a football game. Jesse Jackson and others leapt to their defense calling the punishment disproportionate and racially motivated. For all I know Jesse was right, but what I saw was a bunch of thugs being turned into a cause celebre. Perhaps Jackson did a good thing for those kids, but I think he did a bad thing for the civil rights movement.

    If you think I’m saying parents who use daycare are thugs you are missing the point… which is exactly what I think will happen when this case gets pumped up into a pro-vaccination case.

  31. @daedalus2u:
    Good points. I think you can put together a good argument there, at least in principle. I think that practical implementation might be a problem, but not impossible.

    “Medically recommended” could become a loophole, since you would just need to find a doctor to claim you have a medical excuse. There are anti-vax physicians who would happily provide this service. Still, I think you would see some improvement, even given the exploitation of this loophole.

    The multiple-vaccinated family issue is something I hadn’t considered, and does seem to make sense. There would still be the exceptional cases (such as the sibling of an unvaccinated child presenting a greater risk), but as with “medically recommended”, you would probably see an improvement.

    I’ll have to think about it more, but you may have sold me on that one.

    I am a Hedge

  32. In my opinion…

    This discussion highlights why scientists and science advocates struggle in arguments with people like anti-vaxxers. It’s not because we don’t have the science on our side — quite the opposite, in this case. But our opponents did not reach their conclusions through careful consideration and evaluation of the data.

    We are not good at the emotional draws. We are very much a “just the facts, please” group. And we tend to be left gasping when we are dealing with strictly emotional reactions.

    Carl Sagan was not who he was because he was the best astronomer ever. Neil deGrasse Tyson is not the huge draw he is because he has made other astrophysicists roll over and expose their soft underbellies. Both of them managed to not only find the passion in themselves, but bring it out in a way that connected with others. Getting a measurement correct to the last significant figure is not always more important than showing how a discovery enriches human life and opens new doors.

    Using this poor kid with leukemia as some sort of model for the dangers of skipping vaccines does the same thing. It yanks the heartstrings and puts an innocent face in front of our reams of dry reports and snarky blog posts. This sort of thing is exactly what we need more of — not just for vaccines, but for science education across the board. Jenny McCarthy doesn’t have any science on her side. She only has marketing.

    We would be well served to not blithely let them have that particular battleground without a fight. We have won with the data. It’s there for all to see, and we need to keep it there. But we have to also make them understand the costs of their ignorance. Obviously the statistics aren’t doing it — maybe showing them sick, tortured, and isolated children will. They claim they’re fighting this fight to protect the kids — have them put their money where their mouth is.

  33. @phlebas:
    It’s not that we shouldn’t use emotional appeals. The point is that we should use valid emotional appeals, and emotional appeals that are more targeted at the actual concerns people have. Anti-vax parents (like all parents) are concerned about their own children first. Everything else is frosting.

    You can’t counteract “your kid will become a brain damaged zombie” with “it’s hard for me to find daycare”.

    You will get more mileage out of, “your kid will cough uncontrollably and suffocate and die in front of your eyes as you stare on helplessly. There’s a shot that will stop this from happening.”

    I am a Hedge

  34. @James Fox: Well, that he should go to prison is obvious. But where should he go to prison? The USA is too Westernized for him, right? There are plenty of prisons in the multitude of Muslim nations in the middle East. I know that the problem with that is that what he did probably wouldn’t even be seen as a crime over there…

    That kind of stuff really REALLY gets my (halal, of course) goat (Theo Van Gogh’s case, for one) – hardcore Muslims moving to the west (why can’t they go to India, Malaysia, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, etc, if they’re going to get their panties in a bunch about “the West”), refusing to assimilate, and then freaking out about the immorality of it all and doing something where someone gets hurt.

    Seriously – if Islam is so great and they want everyone around them to be Muslim, why on earth would they move to a country with “western” values (especially one like Holland or Denmark) when there are plenty of theocracies available (and that’s what they’d like, ultimately, right?)?

  35. @Im a Hedge: @Im a Hedge:

    Any biases I might have are irrelevant to the points I present.

    They are not irrelevent when you start calling them “kennels”, which makes it clear that your negative bias is clouding your argument.

    Surely you don’t expect me to bite on your hyperbolic strawman?

    Oh, come on. It’s a very real argument: Some parents need to send their children to daycare, for whatever reason.

    Quality daycare is generally expensive. One must be earning a descent salary just to break even.

    Not necessarily. It depends on where you live, and what your job is. The daycare in my home town is pretty affordable, for instance. Some daycare is done by parents and not schools, and some low-income students get breaks on the cost.

    Given the likelihood that both of the parents are earning enough to justify the cost of daycare

    A LOT of households aren’t two-parent households. How is a single parent supposed to care for their child if they are jobless, exactly?

    they would be in a position to make the sacrifices necessary loose one of the incomes in order for one of the parents to care for the child. We are, after all, talking about caring for your own child with a serious life-threatening disease.

    There’s your bias again! You’re implying that parents who “don’t make the necessary sacrifice” and stay home to take care of their children are somehow not doing things correctly.

    What of my friend? Her child was going to daycare when they learned she had leukemia, and as soon as she was well enough (but still had leukemia), she STAYED in daycare, and then went on to 1st grade (this year, the year she had to decide to keep her out for a year, or keep her in school, even with the H1N1 outbreak). Why? Because she loved it, and her mother was a single mother who had to keep her job. Her mother had some flexibility with her job being what it was, but she couldn’t just up and quit, and so sometimes her child went to daycare.

    It was a difficult decision she is happy she made. Again, it’s a personal decision and you keep implying parents should make “the necessary sacrifice”. Why is it “necessary” to quit your job if your child is sick, as you keep implying? What if it’s necessary you keep your job?

  36. I second everything Phlebas said. We’ve had this argument here before. Skeptics are not emotionless robots, and feeling something about an issue is not an automatic invalidation of one’s stance on that issue. Caring about the health of children, all children, is an admirable thing. And my heart breaks for a parent who has to not only face raising a child with cancer, but has to deal with the consequences of those around him dismissing scientific fact, thus diminishing his quality of life even further.

    Plus, I’d like to point out that for some people, having one parent stay home with a kid is not an option. You know, like single parents who have to WORK. Or even two parents who both have to work just to make ends meet. One of the other things I liked about this essay was that it didn’t demonize daycare, and pointed out the ways it can enrich an only child’s development.

  37. And for the record, I’m mostly arguing this idea that a parent must make “necessary sacrifices” for their sick child and one of those sacrifices must be that they stay home with them always and that their child shouldn’t ever leave the house, and heaven forbid their child goes to daycare or regular school! You are touching dangerously close to that, Hedge.

    This is a common thought-process that people hold about sick children. My friend comes across it ALL THE TIME. Generally it’s people who have never had a seriously ill child, and they think the parent should keep the child locked up away from society or they are bad, bad parents.

    Lives go one, the world doesn’t stop, and parents must make choices.

  38. @marilove: …so? Some children DO need to go to daycare, if only because their parents must work.

    Can you accept the premise that some stories make the case for vaccinations better than others? For example, would this still be a good case for vaccination if the child had no immune system whatsoever? Of course not. A message is more powerful if you come up with a case that your target audience can relate to. This story is instantly going to lose the people who think that daycare is wrong. They will not even hear the pro-vaccination message.

  39. @Im a Hedge:

    It’s not that we shouldn’t use emotional appeals. The point is that we should use valid emotional appeals, and emotional appeals that are more targeted at the actual concerns people have.

    if someone has a better person to hold in front of the antivaxxers, by all means bring it up.

    And why do we have to use just one? I find this story moving, partly because I know how frustrated and helpless cancer makes you feel (but mostly because I’m a human). If there are other examples, trot them out! The more victims of antivaxxer fears, the better our chances of connecting. Or at least overwhelming.

    And I think it’s a mistake to assume the other side only gives a shit about their children. If they see enough pictures of kids who look like they are being dissolved by measles, I think something will click.

  40. @davew: I think the argument for and against daycare is pretty even, though, and you could just as easily find a child who is beyond daycare and make the same arguments. This is just ONE article. You’re acting as if this argument shouldn’t even be out there, even just as a form of debate, because it involves daycare, because somewhere, someone out there may not like daycare! I don’t know why that should even matter.

    I have one example of a child who isn’t in daycare. This argument applies to her, as well. Her mother has has to maket his EXACT same decision.

  41. @davew:

    Can you accept the premise that some stories make the case for vaccinations better than others?

    I can. But so what? Why insist on waiting for a Model Case? Shake off the feeling that we can win this by comparing case studies, and refocus on the difficulties and horrors these unfortunate ppl are going through.

    We don’t need Jenny McCarthy talking to Paul Offit. We need her trying to explain to a grieving mother why her baby’s sacrifice was necessary.

  42. @marilove: @phlebas:

    I’m satisfied to at least bring this around to what we disagree about. I don’t think this is a good strategic case for the provax movement and you guys do. I understand your points even though I don’t agree with them.

    I’ve had this exact same argument in another forum and people thought I was either against vaccinations (which I’m not) or against daycare (which I am, but for reasons I’m sure most people would find bizarre and certainly wasn’t the point I was trying to make). I think I write fairly clearly so when I get misunderstood it makes me doubt my communication skills which makes me sad.

  43. @davew:

    This story is instantly going to lose the people who think that daycare is wrong.

    Are you kidding me? The concern here is for the “anti-daycare” contingent? People who think daycare is wrong can bite me. I don’t care what an individual parent decides for his or her child when it comes to daycare, but supporting some overarching anti-daycare stance for everyone is bullshit. I’m a single parent who works my ass off to support my daughter – not only is daycare a necessity for me, my daughter is happy, learning, socializing and flourishing in hers. I don’t take any sort of “daycare is wrong” rhetoric from anyone, and I sure won’t take it from someone in order to temper a valid claim about the need for widespread vaccination.

  44. I happen to think that daycare is good for children. Peer interaction is essential for proper socialization, even before kindergarten. To me, that is the main benefit of daycare, being allowed to interact with other like-age children.

    To be allowed to receive that benefit the child and family must conform to certain behaviors. Being vaccinated, not coming to daycare while sick, informing staff of any allergies, etc; being a responsible member of the daycare community. If you can’t be a responsible member, then don’t try to sleaze your way in.

  45. Let me just weigh in to say that, as a parent, if you’re not willing to do something to keep another child in your kid’s daycare from fucking dying, you’re an asshole. Plenty of places have instituted bans on any nut products at all being brought through the doors because of one child’s allergy… but even if they didn’t, if my kid went to daycare with another kid who could die from exposure to peanuts, I’m not sending Moose in with a bunch of Reese’s cups to share with the class. Why? Because unlike the accusations that Dave and Hedge are lobbing at parents, we actually DO care about other children as well as our own.

    As a parent, this story resonates in a powerful way.

    Also, daycare is not “kenneling” and it’s not “warehousing”. And to insist that parents stay home and raise their children is not only ridiculously impractical, but it’s evil and inhumane. The life of a stay-at-home parent is not one of laughter and joy and love 24-7… it’s boring. It’s monotonous. It’s lonely. While your spouse is away working, you’re stuck at home with no adult humans to be in contact with besides other stay-at-home-parents (and some of us seriously don’t want to get together with other parents to talk more about kids)… some parents need work to stay sane. Literally. Getting out of the house and being a productive member of society can do wonders for things like mild PPD and can help completely eliminate the depression that comes along with the very real cabin fever many parents suffer as a result of being chained to their homes.

    If daycare were affordable near me, you bet your sweet ass Moose would be there right now… and I’d be off making money and haivng conversations with real human beings… conversations that don’t involve Elmo and poopies.

    Get off your fucking ideological high-horses and quit being douchebags.

  46. @James Fox: I didn’t say that he shouldn’t be prosecuted, just that if he came here as a result of America’s actions making his home too dangerous to live in, then I can see why he would not be able to adapt to our culture. Think about it: You’ve been forced to live somewhere you didn’t choose, that has a different language and a different set of rules and expectations. If you were to suffer from psychological damage as a result of stress and culture shock, then you might not make rational decisions.

  47. @phlebas: You’re absolutely right. For the most part communication is about how well you tell the story. A story or incident that illustrates a point you are making is not in fact an anecdote. Persuasion involves emotional appeal which is usually a different matter than convincing folk by weight of argument. All the better, as you say, when we also have the facts.

    @phlebas: I think often the antivaxxers ‘care to much’ and assume they are doing more by taking proactive steps. The vast majority of antivaxers are upper middle class and educated. Clearly the issue is more about bull shit arrogance and hubris than the facts so the emotional appear will often be the only way to introduce the facts to these believers.

  48. @Zapski: Well, many Americans go to other countries and do stupid things and end up in nasty culturally discordant prison situations. Hard to have much sympathy for these folk either, but I may have more appreciation and a better understanding of their circumstance.

  49. @davew:

    I don’t think your communication skills are a problem. And I think I understand your point.

    I just think you are fighting the wrong way. I think you’re being to gentlemanly about it, which us not what this fight needs. You don’t start listing the Marquis of Queensberry rules while your opponent is repeatedly kicking you in the balls.

  50. What is the risk as an immunosuppressed kid in a daycare of getting one of the hundreds of diseases we don’t vaccinate against, but are still dangerous to someone with no immune system?

    How does it compare with the added risk of catching one of the handful that we do vaccinate against from the one unvaccinated kid?

  51. Peoria, Arizona, police said Wednesday that Faleh Hassan Almaleki, 48, struck his 20-year-old daughter, Noor Faleh Almaleki, and her friend Amal Edan Khalaf with a vehicle he was driving in a parking lot Tuesday afternoon.

    [ … ]

    Noor Faleh Almaleki lives with Khalaf, police said but did not elaborate on how the two women knew each other.

    Not to jump to conclusions, but it seems like “too westernized” might have a specific meaning in this instance.

  52. @Bjornar:

    Oh, I understand. But reasoning with unreasonable people doesn’t get you anything except high blood pressure.

    I’m not suggesting we lie about our data or about what people are suffering. I’m saying we need to add an emotional component — in fact, several emotional components — to what can be dry, impersonal medical studies.

    Tell the truth, always. But show examples. LOTS of examples. This kid with leukemia is one example — yet we’re here arguing about whether his family suffers enough for us to feel bad for them?

  53. @Bjornar: The vast majority of common diseases don’t cause permanent disabilities and kill children, most all of the common bad ones have vaccinations available. And my understanding is that immune compromised does not mean no functioning immune system, so the issue is typically being more susceptible to getting a cold or other infection and needing more medical attention to make sure there is not a more serious outcome.

  54. @James Fox: I lived in South Korea for two years as an English teacher. I did flip out and behave badly over a few small triggers. Once I flipped out over a plunger.

    I needed to buy one, and no one would sell me a plunger, instead suggesting that I call a plumber. No American will call a plumber over a clogged toilet (I am convinced of this), so this became a quest that took me to several different parts of town, all for a simple rubber cup on the end of a wooden stick.

    I finally found a plumber’s supply store and attempted to buy one, describing what I needed, when I was told that I couldn’t get one because “they are out of fashion.” I flipped. “PLUNGERS DON’T HAVE FASHION!” I screamed, I yelled, I was shaking, and on the edge of tearing up the shop. I finally managed to calm myself down and I bought the plunger he had, which looked like a Christmas-decorated piston.

    Damed if that wasn’t the best plunger I’ve ever owned.

    But the shop owner certainly came out of the experience with his Ugly American stereotype confirmed.

    Culture shock does bad things.

  55. @phlebas :
    “while your opponent is repeatedly kicking you in the balls”

    But even if you win by adopting the same style, there’s still someone out there going around kicking people in the balls. Or labia. Or Ken-doll-smooth crotch-area.

    If disingenuousness is wrong of them, then it’s wrong of us. And let’s face it, they’ve got a hell of a lot more experience at it and would probably eat our lunch going toe-to-toe. Doesn’t the original article conflate herd immunity with contact immunity, among other little sleights of hand?

    Is the end being argued for valid? Yup. Is it an effective form of argument in the long term? No. You’ll never when people over using appeals to emotion but keep them around with reason. There will always be a bigger crazy out there, better at frothing folks up.

    By all means, *use* emotional examples to engage, but don’t undercut the message to make a bigger splash. It’s short-sighted.

    Tangentially, anti-daycare sentiment is asinine and disconnected from reality.

  56. @davew:

    The problem is this steps on two hot button issues, and the people who are against parents warehousing their children will get stuck on that and miss the vaccine message.

    I missed this the first time around, but feel the need to comment on it: Like Hedge, your obvious bias against daycare is clouding your arguments.

    Again, why should it matter if some parents dislike daycare? It shouldn’t have any bearing on this discussion whatsoever. Plenty of parents DO like daycare. “We shouldn’t be talking about this, hush, some people, like me, hate daycare!”

    Sorry, but no.

  57. Please. My mother never shipped me off to some kiddie kennel, and I turned out perfectly fine. She never let me out of her sight until I was nine years old, and I’ll be forever grateful that she saved me from the abandonment issues that emotionally cripple my peers.

    Even when she took a shower? Absolutely. I sat on the toilet, and she kept one hand on my shoulder. That’s called one-on-one care. It’s called love.

    Did I see her naked? All the time. And I remember it in great detail. How many people my age have such a concrete rubric for determining adequate sex partners?

    When other kids played outside with their “friends”, my mother and I competed in games of “find the fresh”. Whichever one of us found the least moldy pre-owned meals in the alleys behind restaurant row won a hand-whittled wooden nickel, which worked in our make believe slot machines. This is the kind of imaginative play kids whose parents earned incomes never got to experience, and now they’re all in therapy.

    It’s a myth that too much direct parental care leads to some sort of emotional and social maladjustment. Just look at all the homeschoolers who win national spelling bees. These kids aren’t outcasts. They’re champions.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I can’t type, grasp my son’s forearm, and lather up at the same time. He’s preparing mailers full of charts and graphs to send to Jenny McCarthy, and all the squirming really strains my finger joints.

  58. The comments on that article (A pox on you) are…amazing. I am continually astounded that no matter what evidence is produced, no matter how many times people are shown that the “dangers of vaccines” are far outweighed by the benefits, people still go on about how it’s their right to not vaccinate their children. I wonder if they would still back that position if it ended in the death of one of their children, from something like measles? FSM forbid that it ever came to that, but I think they are horribly short sighted. As a nation, we too quickly forget our own past, and we later pay for it in spades.

    This vax issue leaves me frothing. I even hear similar BS from my wife, an RN! I nearly lost it when she defended some of these nutjobs. I did my best to set her straight, but she isn’t one for going toe to toe on something like that, so she likely just blocked me out.

  59. @mattyoho:

    Hmm. I think you’re reading too much into my allegory. I did not mean to say we should fight dirty because they are. I meant that we are fighting two different fights.

    I am not saying we should give up our own fight. But I think we can fight in their playground too.

    Appeals to emotion are not evil, nor are they invalid. They can build bridges. Tug someone’s heartstrings in one direction while the opposition is doing the same, and the people in the middle will have no choice but to do more research.

    That’s why we can win. McCarthy has nothing *but* emotional appeals. If we can toss out some emotional appeals as well, so much the better.

    I have not advocated, and will never advocate, shunting the science off to the side. But if you want to get Oprah’s viewers to pay attention to you, giving them a stack of medical studies is the equivalent of waving a white flag.

  60. @Im a Hedge: I agree with you about the central point to raise against anti-vaccination quacks: If you don’t vaccinate YOUR child, you are accepting too large a risk of something really horrible happening to YOUR child.

    But I think that you have become a bit obsessed with elevating your valid primary argument to the status of The One True Argument. Another recent discussion here had a dust-up over witch burning. I’ll quote Marilove’s response:

    “I hate that argument: “Well, THIS is happening, so why are you talking about THAT?”

    Similarly here – Is anyone in this discussion _really_ disagreeing with you that the #1 pro-vaccination argument is that the benefits greatly outweigh the risks for YOUR child?

    So why all the opposition throughout this discussion to secondary arguments lower on the list? I could understand this opposition if a secondary argument really threatened to displace a primary argument. But we have found exactly ONE example of the day-care argument on ONE obscure web site. So, this displacement threat is almost comically non-existent here.

    Consider a prosecutor pressing his case in a criminal trial. Do they present just their one strongest piece of evidence against the accused, then immediately rest their case? Or do they reinforce their primary evidence with good secondary arguments?

    When bogus philosophical exemptions are causing problems for immune-compromised kids, that’s a good secondary argument that doesn’t threaten the primary argument. I think we have room for it.

  61. @marilove:

    They are not irrelevent when you start calling them “kennels”, which makes it clear that your negative bias is clouding your argument.

    What you are saying is that, because you detect some bias you don’t need to address the points I made. I have a bias, therefore I am wrong. You also seem to have ignored my explanation that followed this, which should have told you that you are misperceiving the bias. I try to not make too much of a point when this happens, as it shouldn’t be relevant to the discussion.

    You said,

    Further, do you think all parents with sick children should just up and quit their job, otherwise they are horrible parents who send their sick children to “kennels”?

    which I called out as a strawman of my position. You defend yourself with,

    Oh, come on. It’s a very real argument: Some parents need to send their children to daycare, for whatever reason.

    Do you see the differences? “All parents with sick children” vs “Some parents”. At least recognize and acknowledge that you mischaracterized my point.

    A LOT of households aren’t two-parent households. How is a single parent supposed to care for their child if they are jobless, exactly?

    We are talking about the Slate story. It is clear from the story that this is a two-parent dual-income household. This is a specific case, and you are responding to points about this specific case with generalities that do not apply.

    There’s your bias again! You’re implying that parents who “don’t make the necessary sacrifice” and stay home to take care of their children are somehow not doing things correctly.

    Again, the, “You have a bias, therefore I’m right” argument. That just doesn’t follow. Any biases I might have are not relevant to the arguments I am presenting.

    What of my friend? Her child was going to daycare when they learned she had leukemia…

    There’s your bias. Do I win now?

    This story isn’t about your friend. It isn’t about a single parent.

    Again, it’s a personal decision and you keep implying parents should make “the necessary sacrifice”. Why is it “necessary” to quit your job if your child is sick, as you keep implying? What if it’s necessary you keep your job?

    I was going to point out that you are taking my use of the term “necessary sacrifice” out of the context in which I used it, and implying a different meaning to it. However, as I re-read my post, I see that I have a typo, which left a word out, and may have confused the meaning of the sentence. Here is the sentence, with the missing word added in:

    Given the likelihood that both of the parents are earning enough to justify the cost of daycare, they would be in a position to make the sacrifices necessary [to] loose one of the incomes in order for one of the parents to care for the child.

    I am not saying it is necessary to sacrifice, I am saying that if they wanted to stay home to care for the child, they are probably in a position to do those things that would enable that. That is, they could make the sacrifices that would be required for them to stay home.

    Marilove, on a bit of a personal note, I have been commenting here for more than a year and you and I have been on different sides a number of times. You have variously assumed things about my personal life, my economic conditions, my genealogical background, my biases and prejudices, and other personal characteristics about which you have very limited information. You have often been mistaken about these things. You have repeatedly used your questionable observations as an excuse for disregarding arguments that I put forth. I ask you to notice that I have never responded to you in kind. It’s not reasonable for me to expect everyone on the internet to be on their best behavior and perfectly respectful at all times. It is not out of line to treat random commenters with occasional disrespect. Despite the fact that we scarcely know each other at all, I think we have had sufficient interaction to bring us beyond the level of being random internet people. I have never impugned your motives, or attempted to dismiss your position based on some presumed character flaw that I have identified in you. At this point in our … relationship?… I don’t think it is unreasonable for me to expect a little bit more respect from you. After so much interaction, it approaches the point of becoming personally offensive. We don’t have to be friends, and we don’t have to agree about everything, but I am not an abusive person, and you should be able to have a rational conversation with me, even when we disagree, without becoming insulting and abusive towards me.

    Typically, when people fall into some ad hominem, I try to avoid spending too much time on it. It’s a distraction from the substance of the conversation, and I don’t usually want to go down that road. This can have the unfortunate effect of leaving the claim unanswered, allowing it to appear to be true. I think this has happened several times in various conversations with you. I will take this opportunity as an example, and maybe you can consider implications this may have for other things you have come to believe about me, and how this may have clouded your ability to focus on what I am really saying.

    I have no problem with daycare. If someone chooses to place their child in daycare, that’s up to them and it doesn’t bother me at all. If a daycare provided wants to adopt any policy at all regarding vaccination, that is up to them. I may think some policies are wiser than others, but I wouldn’t make any attempt to stop them from establishing their policy. My personal view of daycare is completely irrelevant to any point I have been making in this thread. For all you know, my kids are in daycare. For all you know, I might have been in daycare and had a lovely time. It has no bearing on what I’ve been saying.

    In your concern that my bias is clouding my view of the issue, you have failed to see that you have completely misunderstood my view of the topic, despite my repeated attempts to redirect you. More importantly, you have failed to appreciate that my view on the topic is irrelevant to the issues I have been raising.

    I am a Hedge

  62. I just can’t believe that daycare is still a “hot button issue” outside of the fringe groups that also think their kids shouldn’t go to school. It’s really a shame that an anti-vax issue got all caught up in some people’s hatred of daycare.

  63. @ekimbrough:

    But I think that you have become a bit obsessed with elevating your valid primary argument to the status of The One True Argument. Another recent discussion here had a dust-up over witch burning. I’ll quote Marilove’s response:

    “I hate that argument: “Well, THIS is happening, so why are you talking about THAT?”

    That’s a legitimate concern, and I don’t think I’m quite doing that. The idea that “Bad Thing A is so bad, that no one should waste any time on Bad Thing B”, is not something I would agree with. I don’t think we’re having much disagreement here that vaccine avoidance is the Bad Thing that we are trying to deal with.

    As to The One True Argument, I’m not trying to say that, although I can see how I may have given that impression.

    So why all the opposition throughout this discussion to secondary arguments lower on the list?

    I’m not against discussion secondary arguments. The problem I have here isn’t that it’s not the best argument. My problem is that it’s a bad argument, or at least an argument that’s not like to be very effective. I’ve tried to give the reasons why, but I don’t know if I’ve gotten through the clouding discussions.

    Similarly here – Is anyone in this discussion _really_ disagreeing with you that the #1 pro-vaccination argument is that the benefits greatly outweigh the risks for YOUR child?

    I’m not clear on that. It seems that some people either do disagree with that, or haven’t actually gotten to that point in the thought process. There seems to be a lot of distraction about irrelevant things. It does seem that some people here (in this thread and in some previous threads) really are opposed to the idea that the primary argument is one of self interest and concern for the well-being of one’s own family. I wouldn’t expect that to be controversial, and no one here has really taken it on, but there’s a surprising amount of distractions going around. People are defending emotional appeals, which I haven’t questioned, and I have even clearly supported.

    My position is that you put your best argument first, because people will stop listening soon. If they keep listening, you can add some of the other arguments.

    The terms “good argument” and “bad argument” are a bit overloaded. Sometimes when we say “bad argument” it means an argument that is logically invalid, or otherwise not sound (flawed premises and such). Other times “bad argument” can be an opinion on how effective the argument will be in persuading the target audience. In this use, an argument may be bad, even if it is logically valid and sound. The herd immunity arguments are valid and sound arguments. I think they will be less effective at persuading the target audience that the “vaccines are good for you and your family” arguments. The version of the herd immunity argument presented in the Slate article is bad, in the second sense.

    I am a Hedge

  64. @phlebas: I’ve been arguing against an emotional argument (in favor of gay marriage) over on Facebook, so I need to clarify. Emotional arguments are necessary, and they work for both good guys and bad guys. John Cleese’s “The Human Face” has a great example of the importance of emotional content in our interaction and our memories. So your comment above about “unreasonable people” refers to all human beings.

    Those arguments are, however, insufficient with people who like to include facts and reality in an argument. Insufficient, but still necessary.

  65. @Jen: I don’t take any sort of “daycare is wrong” rhetoric from anyone, and I sure won’t take it from someone in order to temper a valid claim about the need for widespread vaccination.

    Let’s suppose we here are designing a pro-vaccination PR campaign and we are choosing between two messages. One tests well in 90% of the people and the other tests well with 80% of the people. Which one do we go with? The answer might be “both.” Or maybe the 10% who don’t like the first message hate it so intensely that the 80% message is better. Winning hearts and minds is always difficult and always complicated. I have an opinion on this subject, but I don’t claim certain correctness. What I do think is important is to think strategically. Actually several people have made this same point in various ways.

    If I can paraphrase @ekimbrough we shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I agree with this. On the other hand this doesn’t mean that every pro-vaccination message deserves our support. And like I said before, there is no requirement we all agree either.

  66. @Elyse:

    Because unlike the accusations that Dave and Hedge are lobbing at parents, we actually DO care about other children as well as our own.

    Can you point out to me what accusations I lobbed at parents that you found offensive? I don’t know what I’ve said to warrant this abuse, but if I have said something so bad, please tell me what it is so that I may consider if either an apology or some clarification is in order.

    I don’t want to be responsible for escalating things, but I must admit that the personal nature of some of the responses here are taking me by surprise. These things are especially destructive when they come directly from one of the hosts. Recently, one of the Skepchicks attacked one of the long-time regular commenters here so strongly that he has not been back since. I think it’s a loss.

    I am a Hedge

  67. @Elyse: Because unlike the accusations that Dave and Hedge are lobbing at parents, we actually DO care about other children as well as our own.

    What exactly did I accuse parents of?

    I’m really trying to participate in a conversation about how to craft an effective pro-vaccination message.

  68. @Im a Hedge:

    When your argument is that this kid is completely irrelevant because parents are not going to care about him and instead only care about their own kids, that’s offensive.

    I’d argue as well that not every parent who does not vaccinate is a die hard Jenny McCarthy warrior parent who absolutely will not vaccinate under any terms. In fact, I think many who do not are simply scared and confused… and if they understood the real impact that they have on other people’s children, they would do it. I promise you, almost none of the anti-vax parents would be saying “so what? i don’t give a fuck. if you don’t want your kid near one of ours, quit your damn job”.

    There are also plenty of parents out there who are in the “it’s just unnecessary” camp… rather than fearing for their zombie-ized children, they just think all these shots are overkill. Have you heard the “too much too soon” argument? Or “they get enough” argument? If you don’t want to get your kid vaccinated under those terms, but then realize the danger that this puts other people’s children, these arguments are easily refuted.

    Are there selfish assholes out there who don’t care and won’t vaccinated regardless? Yes. Absolutely. Are they the majority of non-vaxing parents? I don’t know, but I doubt it. Most of us would make an appointment with a doctor if we knew that something as simple as a shot could make the difference in a pre-schooler’s quality of life.

  69. @Im a Hedge:

    My position is that you put your best argument first, because people will stop listening soon. If they keep listening, you can add some of the other arguments.

    You have to know your audience. I have my doubts that leading with what you think is your most conclusive data will get you anywhere against an emotionally charged anti-vaxxer. When you’re trying to change the minds of people who don’t think their minds need changing, you have to engage them.

    Think about Raiders of the Lost Ark. There’s a reason that movie didn’t open with a bunch of (spoiler alert!) melting Nazis. Instead it starting with Indy getting double-crossed by Doctor Octopus while trying to swipe a golden Dora the Explorer doll. It was all a lot of fun, but what did it establish?

    1) We met the French guy
    2) We established that Indy doesn’t like snakes

    But we were hooked enough to carry us on through until the main plot kicked in.

    Why would it be any different here? Look at the commenters on Phil Plait’s or Orac’s blogs whenever the subject comes up. Those people have been given the data, they just aren’t moved by it. But give them something that hits them in a more primal area, and you might just get their attention.

    “Here is a kid whose chances of dying a horrible death is increased because he is susceptible to certain diseases, and the same thing could happen to YOUR KID TOO.”

  70. @BubbaRich:

    Exactly. Some people can overcome their emotions when presented with enough data. Others can ignore piles of data and remain slave to their emotions. (In fact, all of us likely do both, each with our own threshholds.)

    We have tons of data, and we seem to be losing ground. I think we can work the other side as well. I disagree with davew and Hedge that we need to have a Single Effective Argument, because emotional people react differently to emotional stimuli.

  71. @Elyse:

    When your argument is that this kid is completely irrelevant because parents are not going to care about him and instead only care about their own kids, that’s offensive.

    I never made that argument. Is that your justification for your previous abuse? You’ve said some pretty rough things, and since I was mentioned in the post, they seem to have been aimed at me. I think you have two honorable courses of action. You can support your accusations, or you can apologize.

    I am a Hedge

  72. @phlebas: I disagree with davew and Hedge that we need to have a Single Effective Argument, because emotional people react differently to emotional stimuli.

    I never said this, and I don’t believe Hedge said it either.

    I think the direction this thread is taking proves my point. The daycare topic stirs up a lot of emotions which don’t do the provax message any favors.

  73. @davew:

    When did I mention the daycare topic? I don’t have kids, and have no innate passions about daycare. I believe there are good and bad daycares, and I believe there are good and bad reasons to put a kid in daycare. (And I believe I am not at all the right person to judge which daycares or reasons are good or bad.)

    Forgive me if I misinterpreted your argument. I thought you said the Slate article referenced was not a good piece to wave at the anti-vaxxers. My position is that unless it is shown to be factually wrong or intellectually dishonest, it can pack a lot of emotional punch that we sorely (and typically) need.

    You sounded to me like you were in favor of finding another example to use instead. I am in favor of finding another one to use as well. It doesn’t matter if you (a pro-vaxxer) find it effective, because we aren’t trying to convince you of anything.

  74. @Im a Hedge:

    Like when you say things like:

    Anti-vax parents (like all parents) are concerned about their own children first. Everything else is frosting.

    Yes, I care about my kid’s heath more than I care about the kid next door’s… to a point. His health is not “frosting”. It’s not something that I can take or leave. It’s not some arbitrary thing like a cupcake topping. It’s serious… it’s the health of a human being, a child who has no control over his own health. I, as well as most parents (like most human beings) would be devastated if I knew that my actions, no matter how justified I thought they were at the time, caused the demise or suffering of another person. It’s not going to convince everyone, true, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely unconvincing.

    Having a child does not make me (or other parents) selfish assholes who only care about the well being of other people once our own shit is taken care of. And that’s what you’re saying when you keep insisting that a heartbreaking story about a preschooler who is being denied the chance to play with other kids is irrelevant. It’s not.

  75. @Elyse:

    At this point, I feel I have to come to Hedge’s defense on that last point. When you say that Hedge stated that ” this kid is completely irrelevant…” you are taking his meaning out of context. Nowhere, in anything he has written, do I get the impression that HE thinks the kid is irrelevant…His point, which I have to say he has defended quite well and without emotion…is that to a die-hard anti-vaxer, this child is LESS relevant than the life of THEIR OWN CHILD. While no parent wants to see illness or death befall any child, if they are presented with a choice between their own child and another, then they will pick the other person’s child. Perhaps reluctantly, but if they are made to choose, only one choice is obvious. When they have an irrational fear of vaccines, telling them to put their own child at risk (as they see it) to reduce the risk to another person’s child they will not do it. Trying to appeal to that emotion in these people is useless since they are irrationally fearful of vaccines in the first place. It is an emotional response and reason has left the building.

    In fact…the emotions here are running high and reason seems to be walking for the door. Let’s take a step back, pull out the emotional rhetoric and see if the base argument presented by Hedge makes sense. You can attack his feelings on daycare separately…but what about the vaccine issue and whether the argument implied by the Slate story is an effective one to use against the anti-vaxers?

    What if we phrase it that People (not just children, or your children, or anything else…just people)…people or even YOU should be vaccinated because vaccines are safe and effective and they reduce YOUR likelihood of an adverse event? It doesn’t matter if it is in daycare, a trip to the store, riding a bus, whatever….point of exposure and age of the person are both immaterial to the argument at hand. The argument Hedge makes is that we should educate these people that vaccines are good for the vaccinated. That is the most powerful argument. Contrast that with the argument that YOU (or your child or whomever you care deeply about) should get a vaccine because they reduce the risk of a complete stranger (for whatever reason, we need not specify immunocompromised). There is no mention of value to you, only value to another. Which is more persuasive? That I should do something because I have been taught that it is safe and thus it is in my self-interest, or I should do something I consider risky for no other reason than that it benefits someone else (an argument which relies on a major permise that I don’t believe in the first place)?

    Personally, in this discussion, I believe Hedge is onto something. Unfortunately, we have confused this with irrelevant concerns about the validity of daycare as an option, if we should employ emotional appeals to win over the hearts and minds of those who do not understand (relevant but a separate argument), how public policy should be crafted to force the issue and all manner of other, UNRELATED, arguments and that is taking away from what I thought was a very valid point…if you want to win over those on the fence, you need to explain why they should do this for thier own benefit and not that of a stranger.

  76. @Elyse: I’ve only run into a few more people who admit to being anti-vax, cuz people generally know that I have a heartless science approach to life. But all of the people I have heard from have given that exact response you doubt. And they’re not even talking about our kids, since we homeschool so they don’t get that evolution at school.

  77. @phlebas: When did I mention the daycare topic?

    You didn’t. I should have split my reply into two pieces to avoid this confusion. My bad.

    I thought you said the Slate article referenced was not a good piece to wave at the anti-vaxxers. My position is that unless it is shown to be factually wrong or intellectually dishonest, it can pack a lot of emotional punch that we sorely (and typically) need.

    I hear you. I think there are many good points to be made for the provax case both intellectual and emotional. I am certainly not suggesting there is one perfect argument. If this were a democracy and we were voting on which messages to use I would vote against this one for reasons which I’ve stated too many times already.

    (Thanks for keeping a civil tone. One reason I like hanging out on Skepchick is for the intelligent people who point out things I haven’t thought of and/or make persuasive arguments for positions I am opposed to. It’s much easier to accomplish this when the participants remain courteous and focused.)

  78. Wiki has a list of persuasion methods (tactics and strategies) that include Reciprocity, Commitment and Consistency, Social Proof, Authority, Liking and Scarcity. While there is a primary place for the facts of science, the art of persuasion involves much more than appealing to ones logical capacity. Stories and examples are powerful and matter. Jenny McCarthy is effective because of her stories about her own child (and the boobies don’t hurt). Most people need to internalize the need to make a decision or to change their minds.

    Stories matter.
    Flu Story: A Pregnant Woman’s Ordeal

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/20/health/20pregnant.html?ref=health

  79. @davew:

    (Thanks for keeping a civil tone. One reason I like hanging out on Skepchick is for the intelligent people who point out things I haven’t thought of and/or make persuasive arguments for positions I am opposed to. It’s much easier to accomplish this when the participants remain courteous and focused.)

    BLOW ME, YOU CONDESCENDING TYRANNICAL FUCK!

    :)

  80. @Elyse:

    @Im a Hedge:

    Like when you say things like:

    Anti-vax parents (like all parents) are concerned about their own children first. Everything else is frosting.

    Yes, I care about my kid’s heath more than I care about the kid next door’s… to a point. His health is not “frosting”. It’s not something that I can take or leave. It’s not some arbitrary thing like a cupcake topping.

    Is this the offensive thing, a statement you agree with, but you just don’t like my choice of metaphor?

    What if I said, “You know, getting your kid vaccinated is a safe and effective way to prevent them from getting some pretty horrible diseases. The fact that your kid will also become less likely to spread diseases to her classmates is just icing on the cake.”

    Would that be offensive? That is exactly the sense in which I mean that “Everything else is frosting”. (Just in case it’s some king of regional thing “icing” = “frosting”)

    Rather than grasping at straws like that, you can go ahead and take the high road and acknowledge that you misunderstood me, accidentally misrepresented me, and you can apologize.

    I promise I won’t think less of you for doing so.

    I am a Hedge

  81. @dpaul:
    Thanks for the kind words on my behalf.

    Just one little thing:

    You can attack his feelings on daycare separately

    While I don’t think it should matter at all to the issue at hand, my feelings on daycare have been mischaracterized. I pointed this out in one of my overly-long comments above, but I don’t expect everyone is inclined to read all of my ramblings. My opinions on daycare are entirely irrelevant, but I did clarify in order to point out that there are some unsubstantiated conclusions being drawn.

    I am a Hedge

  82. @phlebas:
    I think we are dealing with a couple simple misunderstandings. Some of my comments here have gone pretty long, and the relevant points may be buried to deeply in them. Meanwhile, some of the more concise comments have pretty severely misrepresented what I have said. So a simple misunderstanding of what I’m saying isn’t surprising.

    I am not arguing against emotional appeals to reach people regarding vaccination. Buried in an earlier post, I linked to this video. It’s just one example that I think could be very effective (it’s probably not the best, but it’s the first one I found that basically had what I was looking for). I haven’t argued against using emotional appeals in general. I have argued against a particular emotional appeal because I think it will not be extremely effective. People can disagree about this without either of them being evil.

    When I say you put your best argument first, it assumes a different set of circumstances than would apply in your film example. You can save the best for last and build to a dramatic finish if you are confident that your audience with stay with you throughout. I don’t think that’s a safe assumption with some kind of public information campaign. You need something that quickly grabs their attention. They may stay around for details, and you can follow up, but you shouldn’t rely on them sitting through your entire lengthy presentation. We need to hit them with the most effective stuff right away and make an impression. We want parents to imagine their own child with one of these preventable illnesses.

    I don’t agree with the position that any old emotional appeal is acceptable. I think it still has to be making a valid point. I wouldn’t support, “Being unvaccinated makes baby Jesus cry”.

    I disagree with davew and Hedge that we need to have a Single Effective Argument, because emotional people react differently to emotional stimul

    For this, I’ll just refer to my earlier response to ekimbrough, where I talked about it. I don’t think I’m likely to say it much better if I try again, and this comment has already become another too-long-comment-by-Hedge.

    I am a Hedge

  83. Let me weigh in on this one as an anti-vaxxing skeptic.

    Firstly, it should be noted that even some vaccinated kids can catch, and transmit, the illnesses they’re vaccinated against. Read the vaccine manufacturer’s websites – they don’t guarantee 100% efficacy. Vaccinated children are *also* a risk to poor little Leukaemia Kid. And of course, as already mentioned, there’s many diseases we don’t vaccinate against. And don’t think for a second that anti-vaxxers won’t know these things.

    Second, some people choose not to vaccinate because they’re entralled with the “natural” options, like diet, and homeopathy (yay, water works so well to protect you). Or, because they just don’t understand the science behind vaccination and the immune system, and don’t want to try. However, some people choose not to vax because of their skeptical tendencies. When confronted with anti-vaxxing rhetoric, they hesitate, thinking “OK, could vaccinations maybe be a risk to my child? I should research and evaluate this possibility.”

    I fall into the latter camp. I delayed vaccinations for my first child, while researching, and researching. With my daughter’s life at stake, and *both* sides of the fence yelling “You could KILL your child if you choose wrong, you irresponsible moron!” as loud as they could, I didn’t want to pick the wrong side. I did eventually choose to vaccinate against most diseases, even the demonised MMR. I did omit the Hep B vaccination, because I personally suffered from a very serious illness correlated with this vax, at the very same time interval as a small scale study on the topic. No, its not conclusive. But with a possible genetic tendency towards this illness (which I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy), I’d rather play it safe, with a disease that’s not easily transmitted. For my second child, he also won’t be getting any flu vaccinations, as he’s anaphylactic to egg, which may be present in tiny amount in these vaccines. Should a kindy ban either or both of my children from attending? Even if I’m totally wrong not to vaccinate my daughter, should she miss out on the socialisation or learning available at kindy – should I be forced into homeschooling?

    You want to know what arguments appeal to anti-vaxxers?

    1. The science. Most anti-vaxxers are well educated, and appreciate a good large-scale study with a well-written summary/abstract. The problem is not the lack of such studies, but a lack of promoting them. UK health websites do better than most countries, on this. Sadly, most pro-vaccination sites weigh in with wildly exaggerated claims of risks for not vaccinating; heavy on emotion and light on facts and references. For example, the side effects of polio are undoubtedly severe, but there hasn’t been a single case of polio in 20 years. When the anti-vax side brings this fact up, it makes the pro-vax lobby look like scaremongering fools.

    2. Emotion. I agree that “YOUR child could suffer” works better than “Someone elses’ child could suffer”. A story about a parent who didn’t vaccinate their child, and a child who subsequently died, will hit with more impact.

    3. Critique. Directly addressing the claims of the anti-vax lobby is important. You can talk about herd immunity all you like, but you also need to answer questions like “But won’t the mercury content of the vaccines poison my child? I don’t want my child to become autistic, like they say could happen.”

    On the issue of daycare, I agree that in the case of Leukaemia Kid, whining about the lack of “good” daycare with all-vaccinated kids isn’t an emotional argument that’s going to resonate well with anti-vaxxers. Most of us/them *are* against daycare, and it does indeed weaken the pro-vaccination argument. An emotive argument must get the target audience to identify with the protagonist, and most anti-vaxxers will be thinking “OMG, I’d *never* put my dying/ill child in daycare. What a horrible risk to take, even if the kids *are* vaccinated! And what an uncaring mother for farming out her child!”

    :)Athena

  84. Sorry, dudes, this got to be a little tldr – so are we battling between “daycare evil” vs. “daycare good” regarding the immuno-compromised kid who couldn’t go to daycare because of all the anti-vaxers?

    Some people are drinking beers in the interim of the conversation. Please consider us (me).

  85. @Athena:

    I have to disagree with you on all three of your “ways to appeal to the anti-vaxxers”.

    1. Science. The science is out there. It’s presented all the time. There’s no question about it. The information is everywhere. The CDC, the FDA, medical journals, blogs, everywhere. I’m half tempted to get a tattoo that says, “vaccines are safe” with a list of links to resources for where to get that information.

    It’s not hard to find. They choose not to believe it. They deny it over and over. They SAY they want science… they don’t. They keep moving the goalposts… first it was thimerisol… then it was hydrochloric acid… then it was preservatives… then it was whatever. They’re not looking for reasons to vaccinate. They’re looking for reasons not to.

    2. Sick children don’t appeal to anti-vaxxers “Your child could suffer.” Just plain doesn’t work. Your child could get measles. Your child could get polio. Your child could get cervical cancer. Your child could get tetanus. Your child could get chicken pox. Your child could get shingles.

    None of that matters… perhaps the realization that what you’re doing could seriously injure or even kill someone else is enough to push some people to change their minds. I can’t believe that no one could be persuaded by this… even if other diseases are out there that could harm a child with cancer, should we leave the preventable ones out there? We can’t help increase their chances of survival by decreasing their chances of getting completely preventable diseases? If not, then I weep for the humanity of the anti-vax movement. Then they are not the caring and concerned parents that I’ve given them the benefit of being… they are selfish assholes who don’t care about anyone or anything but themselves.

    3. Daycare is moot. Daycare is not moot. Perhaps most anti-vaxers are anti-daycare… but given that there is inadequate daycare for critically ill children due to the fact that there are so many unvaccinated kids in day care, it means someone doesn’t vaccinate and uses daycare. In fact, seems like a whole bunch of someones do.

    And like it or not, there are plenty of people out there who can’t just stay home with their child with cancer all day… they have mortgages to pay, other kids to feed, medical bills to pay and insurance to hold on to. To judge a family for putting their kid in daycare is either the sign of someone who has no connection with real working people or who just really loves to throw stones.

  86. @Elyse: If your argument is not that this plea will not work because parents don’t care enough about other people’s kids to question their own misgivings, then I apologize.

    I’m still waiting to hear about the accusations I was “lobbing at parents”.

  87. To sum up this thread for anyone showing up late:

    Don’t talk about how cancer kids are threatened by the anti-vax movement. No one cares about fucking whiny cancer kids.

    Don’t be an asshole. If you can’t afford to stay home with your kids, then you can’t afford to go to work and pay for day care. Either way, you have no excuse not to stay home. Only assholes who hate their kids send them to daycare.

  88. @Elyse:
    Well, at least I gave you a chance to show some class. You may have sufficiently obfuscated your response so most people won’t bother, but that doesn’t change the fact that you were out of line and you aren’t big enough to own up to it.

    I am a Hedge

  89. @Athena: Hon, if anti-vaxxers were also anti-daycare, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. The less they subject the rest of the kiddie population to their children’s intentional immune deficiencies, the better.

    As Elyse said, daycare is not moot. Just as you claim that pro-vaxxers lose credibility with anti-vaxxer’s for their support of daycare, the same is conversely true. It’s sad that the issues are intertwined, but anything related to the mommy wars and subsequent choices is rarely otherwise. The myriad of financial situations as well as the emotional makeup of the child have more bearing on the needs for daycare than any fundamental belief. My child thrives at her “school” far beyond what I could accomplish at home. My decision to return to work when she turned 2 had more to do with me recognizing my daughter’s emotional/developmental needs in place of my own fears. As with any other service provided within a community, daycares vary in focus and quality.

  90. @Elyse: The accusation that an emotional appeal isn’t worthwhile because parents don’t care if their choices harm other people’s kids.

    I never said anything like this. Indeed I said exactly the opposite a couple of times including comment #9 ” I think babies too young to get vaccinated becoming gravely ill makes a much better emotional and logical case for everyone.”

    I think I’ve babbled too much on this thread. I’ll toddle off now.

  91. I think I’ll just repeat this quote over and over for a while:

    @phlebas:

    “You sounded to me like you were in favor of finding another example to use instead. I am in favor of finding another one to use as well. It doesn’t matter if you (a pro-vaxxer) find it effective, because we aren’t trying to convince you of anything.”

    I Am Hedge, I think your arguments about why there might be problems with the immuno kid in daycare scenario are valid. But I think your idea about “putting your best argument forward” in place of one like this is grossly out of touch with reality. As many people have brought up over and over again, there are many people who will be affected positively by the generalized argument that it is also good thing to be vaccinated so you don’t kill other people (immunocompromised or not).

    The only reasons I can think of to rebut merely including this argument in the debate about vaccinations (which as far as I know, you have not made) is that:

    1) using this type of argument in addition to other arguments somehow turns more people off than it gains, or

    2) that it bogs down time that should otherwise be devoted solely to saying “it protects you and your kids.”

    If you want to make those arguments, I’d be interested, but let me give you two clear cut reasons why we NEED to also make the argument that vaccinations help more people than just yourself and your family:

    1)For non-life threatening diseases, such as the flu, there are SUBSTANTIAL pro-vax groups of people who will never get a flu shot. My parents, who got me all of my childhood vaccines, are one example, and so are 7 of 9 person friends of mine. The majority of people I talk to at in a freaking science club I attend also feel this same way. The argument that it helps them simply doesn’t matter enough for something like a flu shot, because they personally say, “I’d rather not spend $20 and perhaps feel kind of shitty for a day to help prevent an illness I might not even get.” These are people who would be very sympathetic to the argument that it is not their own health that matters in the case of getting the flu, it’s people who (like children, pregnant women, immunocompromised individuals, and the elderly) would be more severely affected by the disease.

    2) But this mentality is clearly a symptom of a larger problem, and that is that people don’t understand herd immunity. Herd immunity IS a selfish argument, at its core. If I vaccinate my kids, they have a lower chance of getting a disease should they come in contact with it. But if you get your kids vaccinated too, my kids get an added benefit of coming in contact with diseases less, since other people will be getting them less. The more people have a flu vaccine, the less chance there is for the virus to reach a critical point and spread like wildfire. This misunderstanding is at the heart of pro-science, pro-vax people who choose not to get many vaccines, and it is my opinion that it is well within our interests to address them.

    Also, as a quick note on the highly emotionally charged nature of the exchanges with I Am Hedge, I’d just like to make a final point to you that while it may certainly be true that you did not mean to characterize daycare one way or another, and that you might not have intended your arguments or tone to be interpreted one way or another, all we have to go off of in a forum like this is text. I shouldn’t have to tell you that it’s hard enough to understand what people are getting at even when speaking in person — with text, you have to assume that any sort of tone you use is not going to be conveyed ideally. I think that people were well within reason to bring up certain criticisms of your apparent demeanor and underlying motives, even if you will now go back and say you didn’t mean them that way. To keep this brief, I will give you one piece of evidence of many to choose from:

    @Im a Hedge:

    “As @davew points out, the vaccination status of the other children isn’t the major concern here. Just the close proximity to all these other children would produce a sever onslaught of immune challenges. So this parent is arguing that every other parent should bend to their will, for the sake of their sick child, but neither she nor her husband can make the sacrifice of staying home with the child? If the child has a potentially life-ending illness, why would you be looking for an acceptable kennel in which to store it for the majority of your waking hours? Wouldn’t you make great sacrifices to be able to spend more time together?”</blockquote

    That's the full quote, with nothing out of context. This can easily be read as presupposing a very many things about what this person should or should not do, and what they can and cannot do. I'm sure you can see where all the comments of this nature came from. Don't be so quick to call people's comments unwarranted and baseless and illogical.

  92. Elyse, Ashley, I was speaking from experience of talking with dozens of anti-vaxxers about why they don’t vaccinate their kids, and what worries them about vaccinations.

    By all means disagree with me on the best approaches, if you have contrary evidence/experience, but bear in mind that I’m speaking from experience, not just guessing what anti-vaxxers think. I have in fact managed to convince a few mums out there to increase their levels of vaccination.

    So telling me that I’m just plain wrong, that’s not very constructive. I’m trying to provide some insight here, for those who might like to hear what approaches might appeal to anti-vaxxers.

    Also, you need to bear in mind that the government/Health Dept’s approaches and information coverage varies in its saturation and quality from country to country, and State to State. Saying “there’s heaps of studies out there, well promoted” may be true in your region, but not in others.

    :)Athena

  93. @Athena: BTW, “I’m a Hedge” – I thought ninjas were only good for hanging around airports and getting sucked up into jet engines! Who knew they could be hedges too!

    If you have never read _The Tick_ graphic novels you are missing a treat. I giggle a little every time I see Hedge’s handle.

  94. Warning: here comes another way-too-long comment.

    @sporefrog:
    The quote you included at the top of your comment was a comment to davew, not to me. I understand it has become commonplace on this thread to merge us together, but we are different people, each with our own views. The basic sentiment of that quote was directed at me a couple of times, and I have responded to it. I’m not going to repeat it all again here, but see my earlier response to ekimbrough if you are interested in my take.

    The only reasons I can think of to rebut merely including this argument in the debate about vaccinations (which as far as I know, you have not made) is that:

    1) using this type of argument in addition to other arguments somehow turns more people off than it gains, or

    2) that it bogs down time that should otherwise be devoted solely to saying “it protects you and your kids.”

    It is not my position that no one should ever under any circumstances use this story in an argument. I wouldn’t use it, and I wouldn’t recommend using it. IMy reasons are a combination of your option 1, and option 3, which you omitted: “The argument behind it is flawed”. You can see my explanations of this in my earlier posts, if you care to.

    let me give you two clear cut reasons why we NEED to also make the argument that vaccinations help more people than just yourself and your family

    I have not said that we shouldn’t make that argument. I have been represented as having said that, but I have not actually said that.

    I think that people were well within reason to bring up certain criticisms of your apparent demeanor and underlying motives, even if you will now go back and say you didn’t mean them that way.

    You are absolutely right about the difficulties of communicating purely with text. In my opinion, this calls for charity all around. Before going too far with assumptions about what someone has said, you can as for clarifications. This was not done here. Instead, my comments were taken not just at their worst possible meaning, but were extended far beyond any reasonable interpretation of what I had said. You have kindly posted my initial comments, which set this off, so I don’t need to repeat them. Somehow, those comments became characterized as:

    Please note: the following list are mischaracterizations of my position(s).

    I want the child to be “[locked up] inside until they wither away.” (@marilove)

    I have a “negative bias toward daycare”, and my comments imply that I “think all parents with sick children should just up and quit their job, otherwise they are horrible parents who send their sick children to “kennels”” (@marilove)

    My comments about this specific case, were inappropriately applied to single parents. (@marilove)

    I am “implying that parents who “don’t make the necessary sacrifice” and stay home to take care of their children are somehow not doing things correctly.” (@marilove)

    I was asked “Why is it “necessary” to quit your job if your child is sick, as you keep implying? ” (@marilove), which I had neither said nor implied.

    I was arguing that we have to use only one argument. (@phlebas)

    I was assuming that “the other side only gives a shit about their children.” (@phlebas)

    I was lobbing accusations that parents, in general, do not care at all about children other than their own. (@Elyse)

    I am “evil and inhumane” because I “insist that parents stay home and raise their children”. (@Elyse)

    My “argument is that this kid is completely irrelevant because parents are not going to care about him and instead only care about their own kids” (@Elyse)

    — Up to this point, the list includes only things from comments directly referencing me. There was one additional comment, that I think was referring to me, and attempting to summarize my position, but I could be wrong. I will quote this comment in full.—

    To sum up this thread for anyone showing up late:

    Don’t talk about how cancer kids are threatened by the anti-vax movement. No one cares about fucking whiny cancer kids.

    Don’t be an asshole. If you can’t afford to stay home with your kids, then you can’t afford to go to work and pay for day care. Either way, you have no excuse not to stay home. Only assholes who hate their kids send them to daycare.

    (@Elyse)

    End of list of misrepresentations

    So I am being called evil and inhumane — Evil and Inhumane. I am accused of not caring about kids with cancer. I am accused of saying that parents who send their kids to daycare hate their children. I am accused of saying parents only care about their own kids and don’t care at all about other kids. All this, as I am attempting to engage people in a civil discussion, and the people making these accusations are too small to deal with this in an upfront manner. The last post from Elyse came after she had been conclusively shown that she was wrong about what I was saying. It’s behavior akin to a child sticking its fingers in its ears and shouting “I can’t hear you I can’t hear you”.

    When I make a statement, it can be misinterpreted. If I am asked to clarify what I mean, I will try to do so. It must be recognized that I am the final authority on what I mean. I may say something poorly, but that doesn’t change what I mean. When someone reads my comment and says “You mean A”, then I say, “No, I do not mean A”, is it acceptable for them to continue to claim that I mean A? They can point out that what I said makes it look like I mean A, but can they justifiably assert to have a more authoritative understanding of what I mean than I have?

    I provide a list above of things other people have said about what I mean. I am stating right now that each of those is not an accurate summary of what I mean. I have stated this earlier about most of the specific points, but those statements have gone unnoticed (at least by some).

    @sporefrog, almost everything in your comment is based on a simple misunderstanding of what I have said, or on serious misrepresentations of what I have said. (I am not accusing you of the misrepresentations. I think you have been mislead by them.) The misunderstandings are to be expected, and I don’t mind clarifying what I mean when asked. The misrepresentations come about through,

    Laziness – a failure to thoroughly read what has been written before commenting on it, and to request clarifications where there are questions.

    Prejudice – assuming you know what someone means based on other information you believe you know about that person. This includes jumping to conclusions about the meaning, and failing to consider other possible (more charitable) interpretations.

    Malice – an intentional mischaracterization for purposes other than finding the truth.

    I like to assume the least-bad motive for people initially. I will leave it to you to determine which of these is least bad in these circumstances.

    I am a Hedge

  95. @Im a Hedge:

    I was arguing that we have to use only one argument. (@phlebas)

    I was assuming that “the other side only gives a shit about their children.” (@phlebas)

    And I would argue that you misinterpreted my comments to you. I don’t think it’s worth it to hash it out (at least in my case) — I’ll just chalk it up to the ease of misinterpretation afforded by strictly online commentary.

    Were you and I to meet in person, I think we could probably understand each other’s views in about three minutes. Someday, maybe :)

  96. @Im a Hedge:

    We could have easily met in person. I am terrible at matching real faces to online personas. Take Amanda, for example. I hung out with her a good part of the last TAM, and I could only put the two identities together because her icon is actually life size.

    (Note to Amanda: Plz don’t hurt me.)

    Unless your real name is Irma Hedge, I could have easily never made the connection.

  97. Just to make this quick, I agree with the majority of your post. Charity all around would definitely benefit the discussions here, and I do find it sad that it does seem some prominent members have been driven off by the often hostile environment. However, I don’t think it’s up to Elyse to apologize for, as far as I’m concerned, making an at least plausible interpretation of your comments. This thread is long, you can’t expect people to read every little answer you’ve made. The only things here that I’m going to respond to briefly are the minority of points where I disagree.

    @Im a Hedge:
    “The quote you included at the top of your comment was a comment to davew, not to me. I understand it has become commonplace on this thread to merge us together, but we are different people, each with our own views.

    I was merely reiterating the point from that quote — my post was not, in fact, solely directed at you.

    For reference, the quote I posted:

    “You sounded to me like you were in favor of finding another example to use instead. I am in favor of finding another one to use as well. It doesn’t matter if you (a pro-vaxxer) find it effective, because we aren’t trying to convince you of anything.”

    Here is what I take to be the relevant part of your response in your post to Ekinborough:

    My problem is that it’s a bad argument, or at least an argument that’s not like to be very effective.

    I was trying to show you why the argument is, in fact, effective, and especially so to people who have no idealogical objections to vaccines but do not realize the benefits to be gained, both to other people and to themselves, through herd immunity for more optional vaccines like HPV or flu.

    I don’t, however, think the argument being presented in the article is flawed, simply because other people have a choice to be vaccinated whereas a kid with leukemia does not. You might disagree with this, but again don’t assume that your own personal assumptions about whether the situation is fair or not are sufficient to say the argument is objectively flawed. I see where you’re coming from, though.

  98. @sporefrog:

    However, I don’t think it’s up to Elyse to apologize for, as far as I’m concerned, making an at least plausible interpretation of your comments.

    Of course it’s up to her to apologize. She called me evil, inhumane, a douchebag on an ideological high-horse…. I won’t go through the whole litany again, as you can just see my earlier post. There was nothing in my comments that even came close to warranting this kind of abuse. She went well beyond a simple misunderstanding, and she continued to pile on after she was shown that she was mistaken. It’s not like an offering an apology is some horrible punishment. It’s the proper response when you have made an error at someone else’s expense. Heck, I just apologized to phlebas and it didn’t hurt me a bit.

    Elyse and marilove are both active here today. Elyse even posted in this very thread a couple minutes before you. Neither one of them is displaying even the basic level of decency required for a simple straightforward apology.

    I was merely reiterating the point from that quote — my post was not, in fact, solely directed at you.

    Fair enough. It looked like it was directed at me, and you can probably understand my heightened awareness at having statement misattributed to me at this point.

    I don’t, however, think the argument being presented in the article is flawed, simply because other people have a choice to be vaccinated whereas a kid with leukemia does not. You might disagree with this, but again don’t assume that your own personal assumptions about whether the situation is fair or not are sufficient to say the argument is objectively flawed. I see where you’re coming from, though.

    I’d be happy to discuss it with you further, if you like, and provide my reasons for thinking it’s a bad argument. You let me know if you want to continue, otherwise we can just leave it at “we disagree”.

    I am a Hedge

  99. @Im a Hedge:

    I said your anti-daycare sentiment was evil and inhumane. And as long as you believe that the parents in the Slate article should stay home and judge them because they OBVIOUSLY have the means to do so (and are therefore ethically obligated), I’ll stand by my statement that you should quit being a douche and get off your ideological high horse.

  100. @Elyse: Anti-daycare sentiment is “evil?” Really? Like killing people, or torture is evil? Like maiming animals for personal enjoyment, or stepping on a kitten’s head for fun is evil? Is it evil like rape is evil?

    Methinks that is an inappropriate use of the word. Rhetoric is one thing, hyperbole is one thing. Calling someone’s dislike of something as “evil” is frankly excessive.

    Find a better way to disagree. Call someone evil when they have done something to deserve it, not before.

  101. @Elyse:

    I have clearly denied the exact sentiments that you attribute to me. I only believe what you say I believe in a fantasy world that you have constructed. Can you know my mind better than I know my mind?

    I am not anti-daycare.

    I do not believe the parents in the Slate article are ethically obligated to stay home with their child.

    It’s hard to let go once you have so much invested in the ideas and in the anger. You misunderstood my comments and my position and it hit you personally. As a stay at home parent, you sacrifice a tremendous amount. There are positives, and they are big, but the negatives are big too, and there are constant reminders of them. The availability and affordability of daycare is tightly wrapped up with the decision about being a stay at home parent. Topics that come that close to something so important and significant to you personally are likely to get a strong emotional response. You thought I was attacking this, but I wasn’t. Your anger is misplaced. You are holding on to the anger after the cause for it has dissolved.

    Please, Elyse. Please really consider what I am saying.

    I am a Hedge

  102. @Im a Hedge:

    Heck, I just apologized to phlebas and it didn’t hurt me a bit.

    Yes, but I died a little inside.

    Or maybe that was because Amanda cut me. I don’t see how, since I am wearing very thick socks.

    (Amanda: KIDDING AGAIN! You aren’t small! You’re just very far away!)

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