Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Saturday, February 25, 2012

In Which Reality Bends To The Desires Of Zealots

Yay!  Parenting!

Both Pierce and his disciple Anne Laurie have flagged this story about the measles outbreak at the Superbowl.  Now measles is not bubonic plague, but it is potentially fatal, especially in the young.

Of course, measles doesn't get talked about much anymore, because outside of sub-Saharan Africa, it's controlled through vaccination.  This simple procedure prevents the infection and the complications that arise from it.  The WHO organization looked at measles in Ireland.  Ireland did not start vaccinating against measles until 1985.  There were almost 100,000 cases in Ireland that year.  Within two years that number had fallen to 201.  But, as is so typical with vaccines, as the immediate horror of the illness dissipates people stop getting vaccinated.  In 2000, there were 1600 cases in Ireland.

The WHO suggests that you need vaccination rates of 95% to really wipe out this disease.  But, as the pieces above reference, we are increasingly seeing people NOT immunize their children because of something Jenny McCarthy or Deepak Chopra said once about vaccines and autism.

My own unscientific gut feeling about autism is that it is linked to a genetic susceptibility to heavy metal exposure, but that's neither here not there, as no one is going around asking people to inject their children with lead and mercury.

Anyway, because people have opted out of getting their children immunized against measles and other diseases, those diseases are making a comeback.

I realize that I'm making a bit of a jump here when I talk about the contraception fight, but bear with me.

As Pierce notes in his piece, this is exactly what the assault on science brings.  Contraception both prevents pregnancy, often prevents certain health problems women face with regards to child bearing and menstruation and allows for healthier women and children when a woman decides to have children.

Thems is the scientific facts.  But because all science in now subject to approval by the "gut feelings" of yahoo politicians who probably slept through high school biology (except the part where they dissect the frogs), we now get the routine undermining of ANY scientific knowledge.

Climate science is settled.  People are causing the warming of the globe.  We can't measure for sure exactly how much, but we know it's happening and we know it's our fault.  Vaccines stop the spread of deadly diseases.  There is no better spent money in a health care system than vaccination.  This is established fact.  Contraception saves women's lives and allows for healthier families.  This is established fact.

But because we no longer accept fact as fact, because all fact is subject to the personal opinion of the individual, we are headed for a world as ignorant and superstitious as the medieval period.

Right now, one half of the American political system is trying to throw women's health under the bus on the orders of a Roman prelate whose former job was covering up the pedophiliac priests in his organization.  The reason we listen to him is because a Jewish rabbi went to Rome and was crucified there and his successors are owed deference because...  (Well not because he leads a large constituency on contraception, because he doesn't.)

Science does create problems.  But science also solves those problems.  Vaccinations can lead to overpopulation as mortality rates fall.  But science can then also give us safe, effective contraception.

I think a lot of things disqualify the GOP from holding national power.  But the ultimate connective tissue between the various factors is their incessant and consistent favoring of ideology and faith over evidence and fact.

With the contraception fight, we are seeing naked political warfare ("Must!  Defeat!  Obama!") with rank ideology (Anything the government tells me to do, even if it benefits me, is an attack on my liberty.) and blinkered faith (Women are vessels for child bearing.).

The party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt died in 1920.  The party of Eisenhower and even Nixon died in 1980.  At this point, even the party of Reagan is dead and replaced, perhaps with the party of Rick Santorum.

Unless they are punished completely at the polls, this will never change.

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