It was inevitable that as soon as the NY Times released its short but devastating review of the latest anti-vaccine propaganda flick, The Greater Good, the folks at Age of Autism wouldn’t take it lying down and mount an assault on the critic.
And sure enough, Anne Dachel delivered in spades with this amusingly hyperbolic screed against a film critic for not liking their shitty movie. Not since The Brown Bunny has there been such a petty, childish response to a bad review.
Just how absurd, fundamentally dishonest, and hyperbolic is Dachel’s response? Look at the title of her piece:
New York Times Reviews The Greater Good Movie Tells Vaccine-Injured Children to Drop Dead
Um, did I miss that part? I read the review and it said nothing…NOTHING of the kind. What film critic Jeannette Catsoulis DID say was that the film was an “…emotionally manipulative, heavily partial look at the purported link between autism and childhood immunization” that “…would much rather wallow in the distress of specific families than engage with the needs of the population at large.”
Catsoulis continues by pointing out that the whole thesis and line of inquiry of the film is entirely “fundamentally flawed”, since “it fails to point out that even were such a link proved definitively, all that matters is that its victims number significantly fewer than those of the diseases vaccinations are designed to prevent.” In other words, the film sets up a total straw man argument by focusing on the wrong questions.
Catsoulis argues the film isn’t as balanced as it pretends to be as it didn’t show the suffering of children who contract the very diseases the vaccines prevent:
“A cost-benefit analysis is completely ignored. Also elided are the mostly forgotten horrors of measles, mumps, chickenpox and polio: instead of lingering at a graveside with grieving parents who believe vaccines killed their baby girl, perhaps the filmmakers could have unearthed some footage of children encased in iron lungs.”
Though a correction has been made to the review because apparently the film does show children in iron lungs, it’s quite clear from Catsoulis’ mistake that this is clearly not emphasized and certainly not given equal attention to the very few individual cases of alleged vaccine injuries the film is much more interested in feeding to the public.
But that’s where Anne Dachel’s whiny response takes an odd turn as she leaps many dimensions of logic to argue that it’s not reasonable for health practitioners to place greater importance on protecting the most lives because they should apparently only care about protecting Anne Dachel’s kids:
Phrases like, “needs of the population at large,” “cost-benefits analysis,” and “all that matters is that its victims number significantly fewer than those of the diseases vaccinations are designed to prevent” are really frightening to me. It makes me think of things like “peripheral damage” and “acceptable loss.”
That’s because you’re insane, Anne. The terms you describe come from military strategy, not medical practice. In fact, such behavior is considered highly unethical in medicine and could lead to losing one’s license to practice (ya know, like Dachel’s buddy Wakefield lost his license for his callous disregard for child welfare). Perhaps the single best example demonstrating that medicine doesn’t work that way is with organ donation. Doctors can’t just harvest organs from a terminal patient to save numerous other patients. Hell, if a person drops dead this very minute, doctors can’t just take the organs. The person would have to have volunteered to be an organ donor. So even if the fate of five other terminal patients rests on the organs of one dude who’s already dead, they still must respect that person’s wishes as best as they can. This is not something that is taken lightly. But yes, generally doctors have to play a numbers game and do the best they can to protect the most people. It’s almost like that’s their job or something.
But what this all comes down to is, exactly as the review says, a cost-benefit analysis. Doctors often have to make major life and death decisions, sometimes very quickly. This often means going with what has the best odds of a positive outcome paired with the lowest odds of making things worse. It’s not perfect. Sometimes medical procedures can fail or even make things worse. Nobody knows for sure how it will all turn out in the end. But keep in mind that even seat belts have been responsible for some deaths. So does that mean we should all stop wearing seat belts? No. That’s absurd because when you look at a cost-benefit analysis, it’s clear that seat belts save far more lives than they hurt.
Like seat belts, vaccines aren’t 100% safe. And everyone acknowledges this fact openly. That’s the whole point of Catsoulis’ criticism. Everyone already agrees vaccines CAN cause injuries. The only real point of contention if a legitimate one existed (it doesn’t) would be whether vaccines do more harm than good. And the answer to that question is absolutely not.
Lastly, Dachel exploits a common argument among anti-vaxxers, implying that vaccine requires some sort of child sacrifice. It does not, at least no more than saying automobiles require child sacrifice. The fact is that as long as we drive cars, some people will get killed in car accidents. But that’s not a requirement of society’s continued use of cars. To suggest otherwise is absurd. Same with vaccines though even more so. Cars kill thousands of Americans every year. Vaccines haven’t killed even one for at least the last two. Incidentally, 27 Americans died of lightning strikes in 2010 alone. So consider that while Dachel condemns them damned vaccines.
Meanwhile, millions of lives have been protected from deadly diseases. If looking at those statistics, Anne Dachel wants to side with the viruses at the expense of the human species, she’s welcome to do it but the rest of us sane people are going to mock her mercilessly for her pathologically terrible decision-making skills. Her child is much, much more likely to suffer at the hands of the diseases vaccines can prevent than the vaccines themselves. And if she wants to take her chances by not wearing a seat belt because seat belts too have caused injury or even death, she can do that too.
And how does Dachel defend this idiotic view?
Catsoulis isn’t troubled by the fact that there’s no way to tell WHOSE CHILD IS VULNERABLE. It’s just the chance we all have to take—for the good of the herd I guess.
It makes me afraid that in the end, when “a link [is] proved definitively,” to use the author’s words, we’ll be told that what happened to our kids is justified by the claim that vaccines prevented lots of other kids from getting sick.
Dachel isn’t troubled by the fact that there’s no way to tell WHOSE SEAT BELT WILL FAIL. It’s just the chance we all have to take–for the good of the people who might be hurt if our bodies get thrown from our vehicles during a car crash. Dachel would have people believe it’s a choice between protecting your kid or protecting other people; it’s not. Vaccines protect BOTH the vaccinated and those around them. There’s no need to pick and choose priorities. It’s a fuckin’ win-win situation for everyone. But if she wants to risk everyone’s lives on this appeal to hypothetical future evidence that will confirm her presently unjustifiable speculations–if that’s what she wants to hang her hat on–then I’m going to have to cite my own hypothetical future evidence that she’s certifiably insane. So just remember my warnings when future Anne Dachel is up in the bell tower massacring dozens of people with a shotgun while eating babies, stealing Christmas, and using magic to resurrect Hitler.
- David Gorski’s review of The Greater Good
- Haunted by memories of the consequences of not vaccinating (scienceblogs.com)