Plinyblog post #324 DARK AGES REDUX

Now, back to hobgoblins, witches, black magic, the spirits, necromancy!

In the prior post, #223, we sought to  draw a sharp contrast, between the many laudable advances of the European Period of Enlightenment (17th and 18th Centuries), most especially, the recognition of reason and empirical experience as the only legitimate source of knowledge, and the unaccountable persistance of “Dark Ages” ignorance, regarding the subject of gender.  In the present writing, we deal with another illustration of the persistance of this retrogressive inclination, here, regarding a vitally important obligation- the practice of vaccination of the young against disease.

In the interest of  illustration of the quality of the irrational and atavistic thought process, regarding pedriatic health, we would cite an old, unfortunately popular, bit of useless aphoristic advice, “feed a cold, and starve a fever,” This mantra, in addition to being extremely poor advice, additionally happens to  a misquotation of another shamefully ignorant aphorism, ” [If you] “Feed a cold, and [you will be obliged to] starve a fever”. This, popular hand-me-down, tidbit of unmitigated ignorance, based upon the corruption of a previous breathtaking inanity, is a shining example of another failure to benefit from mankind’s steady advance, going back to the European Enlightenment; reason and empirical experience.

Medical research and experience have conclusively determined that vaccination has been deservedly rated as among the top ten achievements in public health, in the modern Century; yet stubborn and irrational opposition to it has existed, since its inception. Despite decades of research and experience, supporting the medical value  and safety of vaccination, an unfounded and bizarre mythology still persists, that it causes autism; an unfounded “Dark Ages” style charge which has been reliably and scientifically disproven.

“RMR” is the designation of an effective vaccine that protects children from suffering from the diseases of measles, mumps and rubella. We have read that two, spaced doses of measles vaccine, results in a 97% immunity. We are authoritatively advised, that measles is so contagious, that if one person has it, 96% of the non-immunized people, close to that person, will predictibly become infected with the disease.

Complications of measles include pneumonia (infection of the lungs) and encyphalitis (infection of the brain) and requires hospitalization.  As many as one out of twenty children, infected with measles, get pneumonia, which is the most common cause of death in young children.

There seem to be two grounds alleged for opposition to this essentially important and salubrious program of vaccination. The first, is a (mythical) fear of contracting autism by being vaccinated; this feared possibility has been authoritatively and credibly disproven. Considering the empirical, beneficial results of the process, can this mythical “Dark Ages” concern, still persist in overriding the rational and experiential threat to a child’s life and health? The other existing ground for opposition, we are told, is a religious one. As we are able to  understand it, the religious opposition is that by vaccination, man interferes with God’s life plan for the patient. Respectfully, so does every other form of avoidance of death or disaster, by surgical procedure, heroic acts, medical care and crossing streets exclusively on green lights. Any belief in a divinity, logically and anthropologically, would have to be at least  somewhat consistent with the desire of the believer for the continuance of life.



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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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