Over the last few years, a pervasive hysteria has grown, linking the use of vaccines to maladies without any scientific basis or real study. This linkage has led seemingly rational people to make irrational decisions. More importantly, for those of us in the autism community, anti-vaxxer advocates have done considerable harm to real research that may help those with autism. http://healthland.time.com/2014/03/04/nothing-not-even-hard-facts-can-make-anti-vaxxers-change-their-minds/
“Disease Risks” and “Autism Correction” had slightly better results, but neither seemed to convince parents. And while “Autism Correction” proved to some parents that there’s no link between vaccines and autism, it produced a strong backlash in others that just reinforced their sense that vaccinations are a conspiracy theory. Only 45% of the already anti-vaccine parents said they would vaccinate after they saw the “Autism Correction” message, compared to 70% of the control group.
Autism is a baffling and difficult to grasp problem that causes many a parent a sleepless night. The need to find a reason - any reason - for autism is gutwrenching, a question parents ask each other: 'why did this happen'. The fixation on conspiracy theory-laden anti-vaccination themes, though, is one of the most harmful for real research. By portraying autism as a matter of a modern fluke due to vaccines that have been around for decades without similar past results we aren't just anti-vaccine, we start to be anti-finding real answers. Because the range of autism is very wide - thus why we call it a spectrum - the inbuilt need to equate all of it as having a single root forces far too many autistic parents to step back and say 'no, it wasn't a vaccine', and it puts too many children in the role of being seen as 'permanently damaged' by those who want the vaccine theory to be true. Think about this: the anti-vaccine movement is telling you they would rather risk the death of their child rather than an unbelievable longshot - even in their own, non-scientifically supported view - of autism. Even those who believe that vaccines=autism acknowledge that in their fever dream of non-science that the impact is a small percentage. But that small percentage is so scary to them that their child's death is OK to avoid the risk of autism. Talk about a stigma to put on those with autism. There is a saying amongst Scientologists - yes, those kooky L Ron Hubbard followers - "If it isn't the truth for you, it isn't true for you." This circular argument basically means: if you don't believe it, no matter how many people tell you it is the truth, you have no reason to accept it. That is the world view of the anti-vaccination followers. But any parent who has read James and the Giant Peach, or any of Dahl's other works can appreciate a man who lost his child due to illness we can now prevent.
Update Thanks to all for so many shares. I made a minor update above because some people were confused that Dahl had lost his daughter very recently. It was published in 1988, which is apparently when it was written, his daughter passed on decades prior .. but it is tragic that his words have the air of truth today.. lessons we sometimes forget.