A New York Times editorial attacks “anti-vaxxers” as “the enemy”, but it’s the Times editors who are dangerously irrational and ignorant of the science.
On January 19, 2019, the New York Times published an editorial mischaracterizing anyone who dares to criticize or dissent from public vaccine policy as dangerously irrational and ignorant. In doing so, the Times avoided having to seriously address any of the countless legitimate concerns that parents have today about vaccinating their children according to the CDC’s routine childhood vaccine schedule. Consequently, the Times fulfills the mainstream media’s typical function of manufacturing consent for government policy by manipulating public opinion through deception. In this case, the consent being manufactured in service of the state is for public vaccine policy, which constitutes a serious threat to both our health and our liberty.
What the Times editorial represents is not journalism, but public policy advocacy. And to persuade its readers to strictly comply with the CDC’s vaccine schedule, the Times blatantly lies to its readers both about the nature of the debate and what science tells us about vaccine safety and effectiveness.
The first clue that the Times editorial aims to avoid any serious discussion of the issue is the title: “How to Inoculate Against Anti-Vaxxers”. The term “anti-vaxxer”, of course, is the derogatory label that the media apply to anyone who dares to question public vaccine policy. It is reflective of the mainstream media’s routine use of ad hominemargumentation in lieu of reasoned discourse. Rather than substantively addressing their arguments, the media simply dismiss the views of and personally attack critics and dissenters—and this Times editorial is certainly no exception.
The second clue is in the editorial’s subtitle: “The no-vaccine crowd has persuaded a lot of people. But public health can prevail.” To equate public vaccine policy with “public health”, of course, is the fallacy of begging the question. It presumes the proposition to be proven, which is that vaccinating the US childhood population according to the CDC’s schedule is the best way to achieve a healthy population. Many parents, researchers, doctors, and scientists strongly and reasonably disagree.
The Times would have us believe that the science on vaccines is settled. The reality is that there is a great deal of debate and controversy in the scientific literature about the safety and effectiveness of CDC-recommended vaccines. The demonstrable truth of the matter, as the Times editorial so amply illustrates, is that what the government and media say science says about vaccines and what science actually tells us are two completely different and contradictory things.
Indeed, the underlying assumption that the CDC is somehow infallible in its vaccine recommendations is indicative of how vaccination has become a religion, with those who dare to question official dogma being treated as heretics.
- How the New York Times Characterizes the Vaccine Issue
- Denying Aluminum and Mercury Neurotoxicity
- ‘Crucial Shots’? How the Times Begs the Question
- Ignoring Measles Vaccine Failure
- Ignoring Mumps Vaccine Failure
- Ignoring Varicella Vaccine Failure
- Ignoring Pertussis Vaccine Failure
- The Times’ Pseudoscience on Influenza Vaccination
- The False Marketing of the HPV Vaccine
- Lying about the Nature of the Vaccine Debate
The New York Times begins by noting that the World Health Organization (WHO) recently listed “vaccine hesitancy” among ten “threats to global health”. The term “vaccine hesitancy” refers to a person’s reluctance or refusal to strictly comply with public vaccine policy, which in the US is determined principally by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state legislatures making compliance with the CDC’s recommendations mandatory for school entry.
For context, children in the US today who are vaccinated according to the CDC’s schedule will have received 50 doses of 14 vaccines by age six and 72 or more doses of 19 vaccines by age eighteen. This has naturally led many parents to wonder what the potential unintended consequences might be of their children receiving so many vaccines, including sometimes many at once.
The Times laments that an estimated 100,000 American infants and toddlers remain totally unvaccinated, with millions more having received some but not all of the CDC’s recommended vaccines, all of which the Times describes as “crucial shots”.
The Times characterizes parents who choose not to strictly comply with public vaccine policy as irrational and ignorant of the science. According to its narrative, the internet abounds with “anti-vaccine propaganda” that “has outpaced pro-vaccine public health information.” The “anti-vaxxers” have “hundreds of websites”, media influencers, and political action committees engaged in an “onslaught” of this “propaganda”, which consists of “rumors and conspiracies”.
The response to this “onslaught” by public policy advocates, by contrast, “has been meager.” The CDC “has a website with accurate information, but no loud public voice”, and the rest of the government “has been mum”, leaving “just a handful of academics who get bombarded with vitriol, including outright threats, every time they try to counter pseudoscience with fact.”
The public policy critics and dissenters, according to the Times, are responsible for causing “outbreaks of measles, mumps, and pertussis”, as well as “an increase in influenza deaths” and “dismal rates of HPV vaccination”, the latter of which the Times editors believe otherwise “could effectively wipe out cervical cancer”.
The Times editors further argue that vaccines are “victims of their own success” because people don’t remember “how terrible those diseases once were”. To counter vaccine hesitancy, there are “some hard truths that deserve to be trumpeted. Vaccines are not toxic, and they do not cause autism. Full stop.”
“Trust in vaccines” is being “thoroughly eroded”, the editorial argues, threatening to cause “the next major disease outbreak”. To thwart this “danger”, the Times advocates that other states follow California’s example in eliminating nonmedical exemptions for mandatory vaccinations.
Describing critics and dissenters as “the enemy”, the Times asserts:
The arguments used by people driving the anti-vaccination movement have not changed in about a century. These arguments are effective because they are intuitively appealing — but they are also easily refutable. Instead of ignoring these arguments, an effective pro-vaccine campaign would confront them directly, over and over, for as long as it takes. Yes, there are chemicals in vaccines, but they are not toxic. No, vaccines can’t overwhelm your immune system, which already confronts countless pathogens every day.
Instructively, while the Times asserts that the arguments used by public policy critics are “easily refutable”, the editors avoided having to actually do so by simply lying that they ignore the past hundred years of science. While urging public policy advocates not to ignore the arguments against vaccinating, the Times editors do precisely that.
On the contrary, the critics most certainly cite modern science to support their arguments and to expose how the public is being blatantly lied to by the government and mainstream media, such as how the Times here lies that aluminum and mercury, both used as ingredients in vaccines, “are not toxic.”
Since the Times utterly fails to do so, let’s now take a serious and honest look at the subject and examine the real issues and legitimate concerns that the Times goes so far out of its way to avoid discussing.
To start with, it’s important to emphasize that parents are not just concerned about the possibility of vaccines causing autism. There is a broad range of other serious concerns that parents have about vaccines that the media never even touch. The media refuse to even scratch the surface, and with the few issues they do talk about, they do so superficially, serving only to misinform the public rather than empowering people with the knowledge they need to make an informed choice. The Times, transparently, does notwant parents to make a choice at all, but simply to obey orders by lining up to get their children vaccinated. To compel them to do so, the Times foregoes educating readers about the issue and instead resorts to intimidation and bullying, including name calling and advocating the use of government force to coerce parents into compliance.
The Times’ claim that aluminum and mercury “are not toxic” serves as a useful illustration because it is such a bald-faced lie. The uncontroversial fact of the matter is that both are known neurotoxins.
Aluminum is used in vaccines as an “adjuvant”, which the CDC defines as “an ingredient used in some vaccines that helps create a stronger immune response”. The use of aluminum provokes a more inflammatory response, increasing the immune system’s production of antibodies to a level deemed “protective”, which is a requirement for vaccine manufacturers to obtain licensure from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to get their vaccines to market.
Mercury is used in vaccines as a preservative. While this preservative is no longer used in most childhood vaccines in the US, it is still used in some influenza vaccines. Specifically, the preservative used is called thimerosal, which is about half ethylmercury by weight. This differs from the form of mercury found in fish due to environmental pollution (such as from coal plants), which is methylmercury.
Apart from falsely claiming that aluminum and ethylmercury “are not toxic”, the Times also claims that the CDC’s website contains “accurate information” to reassure parents about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. However, this is also an untruthful claim. Certainly, one can gain a great deal of accurate information about vaccines from the CDC’s website. However, there is also a great deal of misinformation to be found there, and major media outlets like the New York Times routinely broadcast this misinformation to public, thus serving to manufacture consent for public vaccine policy.
It is true, for example, that the CDC on its website claims that both aluminum and mercury are safe to inject into children and pregnant women in the amounts contained in vaccines. It is presumably from reading the CDC’s website that the Times editors were persuaded that these substances “are not toxic” because that is indeed the conclusion the CDC transparently intends the general public to draw. However, the CDC’s information with respect to the risks from these substances is not accurate.
That aluminum (Al) is neurotoxic isn’t the least bit controversial. Even studies by scientists whose conclusions favor the CDC’s vaccine recommendations acknowledge its toxicity. For example, the authors of a study published in the journal Vaccine in August 2018, who concluded that aluminum should continue to be used as an adjuvant in vaccines, also acknowledged that “studies have clearly shown that Al is toxic, especially for the central nervous system”. It further acknowledges that “no population-based studies regarding the potential association between the Al in vaccines and the development of neurotoxicity have been conducted”. They further conceded that “definitive conclusions” about the potential harms to children from vaccines “cannot be drawn” and that further studies are required to be able to do so.
To support its claim that the aluminum in vaccines is “safe”, the CDC asserts on its website that it “is not readily absorbed by the body”. But that is not a truthful statement. In fact, the key study that the CDC relies on to support this claim, conducted by FDA researchers and published in the journal Vaccine in 2011, acknowledges that aluminum particles from vaccines are taken up by immune cells known as macrophages, which can transport the aluminum into the brain; that “aluminum accumulates in the brain”; and that by four weeks after vaccination “only a fraction” of the aluminum will have been absorbed into the blood, from where it can then be eliminated from the body through the urine.
The CDC fares no better when it comes to being forthright about the risks from mercury. On its website, the CDC suggests that the mercury in vaccines, unlike the form found in fish, is not toxic and is “very safe” to inject into infants and pregnant women. One of the key studies the CDC cites to support this claim is a 2004 report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) on the hypothesis that vaccines can cause autism. This report is frequently cited by public policy advocates because it concluded that, although biologically plausible, the weight of evidence from existing studies favored a rejection of the hypothesis. Yet that same IOM report describes thimerosal as a “known neurotoxin”; acknowledges that some of the mercury from vaccines “accumulates in the brain”; and admits that “heavy metals, including thimerosal, can injure the nervous system.”
In fact, it is precisely because ethylmercury is a known neurotoxin that the decision was made to start phasing out its use as a vaccine preservative in 1999. This decision was made by public health officials after it became publicly known that, as the CDC had continued adding more mercury-containing vaccine doses to its routine childhood schedule, government officials never bothered to consider the consequences of the increased childhood exposure to this known neurotoxin. When the FDA finally did get around to doing the calculations, it found that the cumulative amount of mercury that infants were being exposed to was higher than the safety guidelines determined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
For the editorial board of the New York Times to pretend as though parents have no legitimate reason to be concerned about injecting known neurotoxins into their children—and for them to pretend as though parents have no legitimate reason not to trust the government—is the height of insincerity.