I have been doing a lot of reading of blogs and other online media lately. (Yes, I know, instead of writing my own online content.)  There is a lot of good material out there, usually in my case linked to by people on Facebook, Mike the Mad Biologist, or Slacktavist.  

Mike has been posting items about the vaccination crisis (my words — I think any time crackpots with the ability to injure people get public respect it’s time to worry).  Given my stance on this, and the fact that much of these links reiterate things I’ve already said (albeit with statistics), I haven’t written about them.  One issue I had not thought of until today: what about the poor pediatricians whose patients have parents who refuse vaccination?

It’s a very serious issue, one which puts pediatricians on the horns of a dilemma.  Much the same way that an attorney represents a juvenile, not the parent that is paying them, their patient is the child, not the parent refusing the vaccination.  And what is the responsibility of the doctor to take into consideration the welfare of his other patients who may be exposed to an unvaccinated child? I would not want to be a pediatrician in this situation.  Some of them (about 30% in Connecticut in 2012, 21% in the Midwest) are choosing to “fire” the families, a perfectly rational response to irrational people in my book.

I should write about this in this post, but mainly I wanted to repeat an observation made in a Slate article by pediatrician Sydney Speisel:


The Internet permits people to write anything they want, and apparently people do just that, authoritatively, no matter whether their positions are (or are not) sensible or rational. To complicate things, we are all influenced by a fascinating psychological mechanism that automatically imputes gravitas, wisdom, and authority to anything presented in Times New Roman, even if the same would be dismissed out of hand if scrawled in chalk on a sidewalk. Googling “immunization” will give you lots and lots of hits that probably ought to have been written in chalk on a sidewalk.


The bolded parts (emphasis was mine) made me giggle extensively; in part because it is soooo true.

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