Big decisions from the armchair - there's a straw woman in my house!

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Big decisions from the armchair - there's a straw woman in my house!

Post  Henrythev111Iam on Sat Oct 31, 2009 12:41 pm

Hi Guys

I'm in England, and a regular listener to the show.

My wife and I had a baby girl in August. She's almost three months old and she has not been ummunised. My wife, coming from an anthroposophical and somewhat esoteric background insists that we do not give her the MMR vaccine due to the 'fact' that it contains animal pancreatic material which could alter her DNA structure or worse, kill her within a week as highlighted by the sensational press (and I believe since retracted as hocus pocus). She also believes that if she survives the vaccines, she will in fact have a lower immunity to disease and probably get all of these infections anyway. I'm in a very difficult position here because I am likely to want to give her the vaccine and believe that the medical and scientific fraternity have been working on vaccines for many years to increase life expectancy and quality of life etc, whereas my wife believes in a huge conspiracy to kill off human natural defences against disease in some new world order conspiracy to enrich the evil scientists and to facilitate their overtake of the world. The four horsemen have nothing on these evil doers!!!

The reason I'm bringing this up here is because the argument (and believe me it has escalated to that) is one of fundamentalism similar to my religion is right and yours is wrong etc. This must be similar to parents sitting over their sick child praying for her soul when all they need do is a simple blood transfusion to save the child, but prevented to by one of the parents' religious convictions. I have tried reasoning and sourcing evidence for the argument, but to no avail. She simply believes what she believes! I have asked to see the evidence against immunisation and it all comes from off left hippy groups, the aryuveda and a group of alternative healers and conspiracy theorists.

Could someone please remind me what the rational approach is in this case, and how to negotiate through fundamentalist beliefs? I've put religion aside and grateful for it by having asked the relevant questions and assessing the answers. Apparently that was easy Smile

Richard

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Re: Big decisions from the armchair - there's a straw woman in my house!

Post  Aught3 on Sat Oct 31, 2009 5:18 pm

Wow, that's a tricky problem. It's not easy to change someones mind about something like this but it is important to persist in the case of vaccines as it could literally save your child's life. I would suggest a conversations with your doctor, they are quite used to allaying fears about medical treatments and it might mean more coming from an authority figure. Apart from the the CDC website has good information on vaccines, you are basically going to have to work through every objection she has to vaccination.
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Re: Big decisions from the armchair - there's a straw woman in my house!

Post  Stegocephalian on Mon Nov 02, 2009 5:17 am

That is, indeed, tricky.

Is she religious or anti-religious? If she's anti-religious, you might want to point out (gently) to her that conspiracy thinking is exactly the same as religious thinking in it's method of making it's claims unfalsifiable.

If you argue against a fundamentalist Christian, and your argument is persuasive, they may conclude, not that they are mistaken, but that you are the devil's way of testing their faith. Thus it's a lose-lose situation for anyone trying to convince them to re-examine their views.

Conspiracy theorists do something similar; if an argument seems persuasive, if someone's really good at refuting the claims of the conspiracy theorist, then they are either deeply indoctrinated in the official story, or perhaps even part of the conspiracy; it just goes to show how insidious and clever the conspiracy is. If, on the other hand, you cannot immediately refute their claims, well, that's proof of the conspiracy as well.

Perhaps you might approach the issue by pointing out to her that you both have your child's best interests at heart, and that while she believes that you'd harm your child with a vaccination, you believe that you'd risk harming your child by denying her the vaccination.

Suggest to her that you might resolve this by looking into the matter together, calmly, and with the best effort to be open minded. Ask her where she's gotten her information, and offer to go over it with her - then introduce her to the opposite view, the skeptical case. As for resources, google "skeptoid", and search the site for episodes to do with vaccination. Also look up the podcast "quackcast", and search the list of podcasts for vaccines.

Both these podcasts make very persuasive arguments for reasonable positions.

Go to http://www.jennymccarthybodycount.com/ - they've got a good list of links to resources that oppose the anti-vax propaganda.

Start out by educating yourself with these issues, so that you'll have ready answers for your wife.

A good starting place might be this: http://www.vaccinateyourbaby.org/why/index.cfm

That's what I'd do. If you manage make it an investigation you do together, instead of a lecture where you tell how things are, and if you manage to avoid turning it into a fight, you might have a chance of changing her mind. I don't think there's any magic bullet that would guarantee a good result though, unfortunately. Neutral
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