Professional skeptic and media rabblerouser, Bill Maher, willfully engaged the taboo this week when he expressed his doubts about the Swine Flu vaccine. Not surprisingly, his panelists reacted as if he suggested they eat a small child, live on set.
This is an especially courageous stance for Maher to take given the greater medical community's open disdain for anyone who would question their products. Never mind that there is a body of evidence mounting that most currently cited vaccine efficacy studies are heavily biased and, no double-blind vaccine testing (against a placebo group) have ever been effectively demonstrated.
Never mind that in both 1968 and 1977, when flu vaccines were completely mismatched to corresponding seasonal outbreaks, the flu mortality rate didn't rise a single point. Never mind that even though we immunize 50% more elderly people than we did 20 years ago, the death rate has increased nearly twofold.
Never mind that (as Maher cites) a typical flu vaccine contains mercury, chicken embryos and formaldehyde. Nope, there certainly isn't a credible debate to be had on whether we should be injecting millions of people with that. Certainly not. Right Canadians?
Even the usually infallible Jon Stewart completely dropped the ball on this debate. Instead, he used shlubby Glen Beck as a strawman to avoid the real arguments completely.
The moral of the story is, never believe the glowing screen -- especially when it tells you that you'd be a fool to question it. Do your own research and find your own answers. Either that, or willfully accept your intravenous chicken fetus.
Update: It's really quite astounding how emotionally people react to articles like this. Nowhere in this article do I lay out any ad-hominem attacks on any of the parties involved. I merely cited an excellent article from the Atlantic Monthly and put forward some questions on the history of the efficacy of the flu vaccine.
And the response? Almost uniformly vitriolic. I realize that this is the internet, but I honestly did not expect this sort of anti-intellectual approach from Kos people. In the words of Shopenhauer:
"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."
Despite the screaming, crying and protestations, according to the diary poll, only about 2/3's of you remain completely confident and doubt-free about flu vaccines. Does that mean that one out of every three Kos'ers is a dangerous fringe lunatic? I'll leave that up to you to decide.