Saturday, January 7, 2017

#1771: Jennifer Hutchinson

Jennifer Hutchinson is the author of Unlocking Jake: The Story of a Rabies Vaccine, Autism & Recovery and a typically clueless anti-vaccine loon with a poor grasp of reasoning and evidence and an even worse grasp of how vaccines actually work. Hutchinson is the kind of person who, apparently with a straight face, can say things like “[v]accines create artificial immunity, which damages the natural immune system and leaves children more susceptible to diseases of all kinds. Diseases strengthen the immune system and leads to natural immunity.” Yes, it is an appeal to the quasi-religious entity “nature” to draw a bogus distinction. It also overlooks the kind of obvious point that to get your “immune system strengthened” by a disease means suffering from the disease, which – especially in the case of potentially fatal diseases – the whole point was to avoid in the first place. It’s also rather interesting that Hutchinson, in her book, is targeting the rabies vaccine as a cause for autism; it is interesting to read the above passage in light of that. Vaccines do not cause autism

Hat-tip: RtAVM. Yeah, we've used it before, and
will probably have to use it again. It's not like
anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists will discard
refuted talking points.
Hutchinson, however, doesn’t think vaccines really work at all: “Many diseases were eradicated or almost eradicated before vaccines were available, mostly due to better hygiene and nutrition and clean water.” Yes, it’s the “vaccines didn’t really save us” gambit. Moreover, argues Hutchinson, “[r]ecent disease outbreaks, such as measles and whooping cough, are mostly among vaccinated children,” which is technically true since vaccinated kinds vastly outnumber unvaccinated ones; unvaccinated kids are still 23 times more likely to contract pertussis. But that’s math, logic and evidence, and Hutchinson has little time for such. She’s got conspiracy theories.

In her article entitled “We’re ‘Anti-Vaxers’ Because We Don’t Have a Choice” she also complains that antivaxxers like herself are called “ignorant”, even though she is rather obviously pretty ignorant about science and medicine and is antivaccine precisely because she is ignorant about such matters. Of course, it really is hard when you don’t have the faintest clue about how to use evidence to guide your credences. InWe’ve Shown Them the Proof” Hutchinson is complaining that the other side is refusing to recognize “proof” of the dangers of vaccines, which she got from Jenny McCarthy, no less. It’s worth quoting her at some length:

Most of all, I remember Jenny’s words: Their proof. Those are powerful words. If you’re the parent of a child with autism, you have your proof that vaccines can cause or trigger autism. There’s a lot of proof out there. For anyone who is willing to see it. Unfortunately, that doesn’t include our government and most of our doctors. I’m not saying they will admit that there could be a problem with vaccines–far too much money tied up in the vaccine program. Way too much to lose. But I have to wonder, what would they consider proof?

Hat-tip: RtAVM
Yeah, f**ing proof. How does it work? She does admit that the Institute of Medicine, for instance, has concluded that vaccines don’t cause autism, but reminds us that “thousands of parents of vaccine-injured children have spoken,” too, and that it’s really mean not to take their claims as evidence (here is a good rejoinder to that observation). “So what if it’s ‘anecdotal evidence? Anecdotal evidence can be a start, right?” asks Hutchinson, apparently unaware of the whole point being that it would at best be a start and that scientists and the Institute of Medicine aren’t satisfied with just a start and has therefore studied the issue extensively. Such details don’t matter to Hutchinson: “What could qualify more as a personal experience–and a more reliable one – than a mother who carries her baby inside her body for nine months, gives birth to him, and then watches him around the clock, catering to his every need?” Yup. The spirit of motherhood provides immunity to confusing correlation with causation and trumps carefully conducted studies anytime in the deranged mind of Jennifer Hutchinson.

Diagnosis: Exasperating ignorance. Even after all these entries it is hard to wrap one’s mind around the abysmal lack of even basic critical thinking or reasoning skills proudly exhibited by Jennifer Hutchinson.

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