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Over at Faith & Heritage, Robert Fingolfin posted a couple of articles detailing his positions against vaccination.  Here I will present my own thoughts on the matter.

Once you “unplug” so to speak from the Matrix of the mainstream, whether the issue is race or Keynesian economics, there is a sore temptation to a harmful form of intellectual pride.  This pride is the thought that you are smarter than the “lemmings” who unquestionably believe everything mainstream authorities tell them.  However, it is illogical to assume that since the mainstream is wrong on subject X, that it is also wrong on subject Y.  Each issue must be evaluated independently, and there is the very distinct possibility that both the mainstream AND the promulgator of an alternative hypothesis are both wrong, especially when the latter is trying to sell you a health supplement, book, or newsletter.  There are three useful heuristics I use to determine the validity of any alternative hypothesis, and then I will discuss how the heuristics relate to the vaccine controversy:

a. Conspiracy theories are almost always wrong and should be rejected out-of-hand.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that someone promoting a hypothesis supported by a conspiracy theory is wrong, but rather that the conspiracy theory doesn’t prove anything useful.  If the CDC, the government and the medical establishment are promulgating fraudulent data, then no rational argument can be made.  It is impossible to prove the conspiracy, and also impossible to disprove the conspiracy, and since the conspiracy controls the data, nothing can be learned from that as well.  Except for very small conspiracies, most things happen based on the promulgation of a shared worldview and consensus.  This is why the research of Kevin MacDonald is so important: he liberated the study of Jewish influence in Western societies from the conspiracy nuts, and simply demonstrated that what some claim is a massive Jewish conspiracy is really the spontaneous cooperation of a relatively small group of recently immigrated, Eastern European Jews sharing an anti-Christian, anti-Western worldview (to cite a contrary example, the Western European Jews inhabiting Southern urban centers were largely supportive, loyal citizens of the Confederacy and did not agitate against the prevailing Christian social order).

Large conspiracies don’t work because people tend to talk.  Conspiracy theory thinking is also debilitating in the sense that it fosters both a sense of pride (secret knowledge) and learned helplessness (it’s no use to try to change anything because the Conspiracy is so powerful).  It leaves its adherents in an almost dispensationalist-style paralysis instead of a Dominion-taking postmillenial worldview.

This question in relation to vaccines is the worldview of those promoting them, notably the medical establishment.  When I or someone I know has a health condition, I spend a lot of time looking up evidence-based information.  Universally, I have been impressed with the evidence-based orientation of nearly all medical doctors.  Mainstream medicine’s dedication to slow, incremental progress through the scientific method is admirable.  In addition, medicine has become MORE evidence-based over time, gradually shedding outdated hypotheses.  In contrast, the “magical thinkers” who construct elaborate theories without the bother of scientific experiments have withered.  Virtually no one, for example, not even the practitioners themselves for the most part, takes seriously the original hypotheses of chiropractic (all maladies originate in the spine).

b. First and foremost is the existence of controlled scientific studies confirming or disproving a given hypothesis.  Many religious folks have an aversion to the idea of science, but I believe the scientific method is simply a form of applied Calvinism.  Any pseudoscientific blowhard like Sigmund Freud or Mary Baker Eddy can construct complex systems of thought that seem to make sense.  The scientific method, however, calls fallen humans on their tendency to intellectual fraud by demanding evidence.  Specifically, science demands that any system of thought be able to successfully predict the outcomes of a controlled experiment.  Hypotheses confirmed by many experiments become theories.  This is why the “Theory of Evolution” is a misnomer, unless we are talking about microevolution, as its use to explain ultimate origins is a hypothesis at best.  Ironically, it is because of the misuse of the “Theory of Evolution” that many Christians have rejected science, when in fact macroevolution is not experimental science, but rather just a well-developed but (so far) untested hypothesis (a first step to prove macroevolution would involve a demonstration of speciation among animals descended from common ancestors, which is posited based on interpretations of fossil evidence and carbon dating, but has yet to be demonstrated in realtime; microevolution is a scientific fact, of course, and can be demonstrated within hours with various stimuli to bacterial cultures).

I don’t think any serious commentator questions the efficacy of vaccines.  There are critiques around the edges (e.g. they don’t offer protection against all varieties of a disease, they only work for a limited time, etc), but every reasonable person can acknowledge that vaccines generally confer limited immunity to certain diseases for a certain period of time. Robert makes one of these edge critiques with his citing of public health statistics demonstrating that certain vaccines get credit for eradicating a disease when in fact, he posits, it was a general increase in public health and sanitation.  I’ll make two minor points about this:

i. Robert has cherry-picked his data and I believe misinterpreted it.  No one disputes that disease spreads by two interacting vectors: immunity and promulgation.  The Black Death eventually ended in Europe because the only people left alive for the most part were those already immune to it.  A disease that cannot infect cannot spread.  Similarly, improvements in sanitation caused a systemic reduction in the vectors of promulgation.  It should be obvious, however, that any such systemic efforts are subject to a declining returns curve.  Once people have sanitary water and sewer, the major pre-sanitation disease-spreading vectors, the next steps in preventing the spread of disease are going to have a declining return.  After all, even in a perfectly sanitary public system, people are still going to get sick and be around other people to spread the disease.  The major vectors (water and sewer) have been eliminated, but the minor vector has not and generally cannot reliably be removed (quarantines, such as those described in his second post, can work, but often do not because not every person exposed can be accurately identified).  It is not correct to linearly extrapolate the coincident improvement in sanitation and say that the additional gains post-vaccination are really gains related to improving sanitation.

ii. There are certain diseases where this does not hold true, for example, rubella, where the vaccine was introduced in the late 1960’s after virtually all of the US had adequate public sanitation:

iii. I’d also point out that many of the liberty-based objections Robert has to vaccines also apply to public sanitation.  For example, since I don’t have city sewer at my home, my state requires me to have an aerobic septic system, and requires me to maintain the system with a licensed installer at a cost of about $300 per year.  This is an imposition on my natural rights, but is necessary to prevent me from polluting my neighbors’ water supplies and land, and I support it because I know some people will simply pump raw sewage into a drainage ditch if not regulated.  While the issue of vaccines is more emotional (injections into the body of your child), it is not significantly more invasive than public sanitation regulations.  Americans have traditionally held that the individual states, not the federal government, have the prerogative to regulate this sort of thing, but I doubt Robert would be any happier about vaccines if it involved the state government instead of the federal.

Now that we have dealt with these side issues, the primary issue most often brought up is the idea that more children are harmed from vaccines than benefit from them. Is this true?  According to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System operated by the CDC, about 3,000 children suffered a serious reaction to a vaccine, and far fewer died; this likely overstates the case, as these are simply reports by parents, not validated vaccine issues (when children die, parents are often eager to blame vaccines which are sometimes just coincidental).  But let’s assume the 3,000 is an accurate figure.  Let’s compare that to the results of just one vaccine, rubella.  As you can see above, rubella was holding steady at about 25 cases per 100,000 population in the mid-1960’s before the vaccine.  With over 300 million people in the US, this represents 75,000 cases of rubella that we could expect a year without the vaccine, even with modern public sanitation.  I’d expect that the average “serious reaction” to a vaccine is considerably less serious than contracting rubella.

It is important to acknowledge that many early Christian critics of vaccines argued that because they were so effective at preventing death and disease, they should not be used because they hindered God’s providential punishment for human sin.  Those who made this argument obviously have a very defective theology, but it’s ironic that contemporary Christian critics of vaccines make the opposite argument, i.e. that they are harmful and ineffective.

There is one other angle to discuss which brings up another complicated issue.  There is definitely a risk in getting your child vaccinated, and the risk in NOT getting your child vaccinated is likewise very low.  In fact, because vaccines have eradicated these diseases, the total risk of vaccination (though very small) probably now exceeds the risk of not vaccinating, i.e. the bad consequences of stopping vaccination only occur if most people stop vaccinating; if 99% of people vaccinate, 1% can choose not to and likely never pay a consequence because the diseases can never spread to them through the vaccinated population.  However, if you choose not to vaccinate you and your children are lowering your risk slightly but essentially piggybacking on the vaccination risks taken by others which serve to mitigate your risk.  I think this is potentially an immoral stance, if taken consciously, though I should note most non-vaccinators are not consciously choosing a parasitic strategy, but rather are genuinely motivated by a (IMO misplaced and incorrect) concern about the risk to their child’s health.

I should note that the risk of not vaccinating is rising considerably due to our Third World immigration policies.  It’s one thing to choose not to vaccinate in rural Vermont; it’s and\ entirely different level of risk in Houston or Los Angeles.  Also, if your children ever pursue mission work in the Third World, not vaccinating can also be a risky decision.

c. So far, in outlining a general method to consider alternative hypotheses against the mainstream, I have counseled you to reject conspiracy theories, embrace data and to apply the scientific method to investigating the truth claims of the hypothesis.  I add to this a third heuristic, which consists of two conditions, both of which must be true to give the alternative hypothesis credibility:

i. Those espousing the alternative hypothesis are actively being persecuted: by this I mean not simply ridiculed but actually being driven out of polite society and their employment for espousing the position.

ii. Those persecuting the promulgators of the alternative theory must have a financial incentive to do so.

For example, on the issue of race, people espousing a belief in racial differences are actively hounded out of respectable society and their jobs.  Similarly, the affirmative action and equality racket has a definite financial interest in continuing to use “racism” as a tool to extract resources from whites.  Generally, persecution of one’s opponents is only worth the political capital if the scientific evidence is so overwhelming and obvious that the only way to maintain power is to silence dissent.  This persecution gives additional credibility to the substantial scientific evidence that race matters.

This same reasoning doesn’t quite hold true for vaccines, or for “alternative health” in general.  Anyone is free to believe in colloidial silver, shark cartilage, energy healing, aromatherapy, chiropractic or any other sort of alternative health system without fearing losing their job.  Jenny McCarthy is a celebrity who actively promotes the (debunked for the most part) idea that vaccines cause autism, yet while some dismiss her as loopy she is not hounded out of Hollywood.

Financially, vaccines are considered by most pharmaceutical companies to be extremely low margin, undesirable product lines.  You get maybe $5 and then the possibility of an emotional parent suing you when her child dies (of whatever cause) after getting the vaccine, a perfect plaintiff for some lawyer and a jury to stick it to you (and then once one jury sticks it to you, thousands of plaintiffs pile on, all able to use the original jury’s verdict to secure the facts for their own).  Vaccines are such a bad business that Congress has had to reduce their liability for injuries and also extend the patent period for new vaccines to entice manufacturers to stay in the business.

In “alternative health” generally, the opposite holds true financially.  The promoters of alternative health products stand to gain a lot (for some, billions) if their ideas are accepted, while those they attack in the medical establishment benefit very little from debunking them.  Doctors make their money on serious illnesses and surgeries, and it’s simply not a credible financial threat to them for people to use silver instead of a $4 antibiotic, as most people are sane enough to go to an M.D. when there’s a serious acute problem.

To conclude, I believe we must be very cautious of letting our alienation from the mainstream on some issues spill over irrationally into other issues.  Good people can of course disagree and I hope I have provided some food for thought for those torn on this issue.

Addendum:

I do have an issue with the HPV vaccine.  It is simply unnecessary to mandate a vaccine where the vector of disease is a moral choice.  That said, I will likely have my daughters receive this vaccination.  People lie, and I do not want them to pay a price because their husband hid a past sexual history.

Further reading:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaccine_controversy

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Growing up in the dispensationalist stew of the Deep South, my childhood opinions of Jews were of a purely historical nature.  The Jews were “God’s Chosen People” in the Bible and my awareness of them as a contemporary people was present to some extent but not much of a practical concern.  We simply did not know any real life Jews in my rural county.  Only later, as I began my investigation into the root causes of our societal decline, did I become aware of Jews as a distinct, contemporary people group and the necessary but not sufficient role some of them played in our civilization’s decline.  The work of Kevin MacDonald is particularly useful.  Yes, I know MacDonald is an “evolutionary psychologist,” which tends to scare off Christians, but MacDonald’s evolution is of the micro variety (i.e. relatively small differences in personality between people groups) and his primary contribution is that of a historian, not a biologist.  MacDonald’s analysis of the outright academic fraud of Freud, Boas, the Frankfurt School and the 1965 immigration debate are invaluable.  However, since I still live in the Deep South, my knowledge of Jews is still mostly academic.  Though Hollywood does what it can to malign my people here in the South, the primary personal victims of Jewish intelligence, aggression and unethical behavior are Yankee WASP’s in places like New York and California, where our domestic Jewish population is heavily overrepresented.  This is why movies like The Social Network are particularly interesting to me, for they can provide a visceral appreciation of these differences beyond an academic understanding.

It is important to note that MacDonald’s research shows that only a particular type of Jew has been historically problematic in the United States.  Western European Jews largely contented themselves with making lots of money, largely due to their higher intelligence and the opportunities created by pietist Christians who saw the pursuit of wealth as inherently immoral.  These Jews were very small portions of antebellum America, and were loyal citizens.  MacDonald shows that it is in fact the recently immigrated Eastern European Jews who stir up most of the trouble that gets blamed on Jews generally.  These Jews have a more fundamental hatred of Western peoples and culture, probably stemming from their historical role as middlemen used by Eastern European elites to manage their estates.

The Social Network tells the story of Mark Zuckerberg, the Jewish, likely Eastern-European-descended founder of Facebook and the world’s youngest billionaire.  The most interesting facet of the story is Zuckerberg’s deep-seated resentment of WASP’s, particularly the Winkelvoss twins, members of an exclusive WASPy Harvard club that excluded geeky Jews like Zuckerberg and also Olympic-class rowers on Harvard’s crew team. The movie spends quite a bit of its early plot detailing the feelings of Jews like Zuckerberg: the dorky parties thrown by the Jewish fraternity compared to the old-money exclusive WASP clubs, the general physical attractiveness and greater size of the WASP athletes and Zuckerberg’s obsession with ascending the social order.

Early in the movie, Zuckerberg makes a reputation for himself as an extremely gifted, rebellious programmer when he creates a website called Facemash that pairs up female Harvard undergraduates in “faceoffs” where the user is asked to click on the face they find most attractive.  Zuckerberg then feeds the data into a fuzzy ranking algorithm that, over time, would reveal a fairly robust ranking of the pecking order of beauty among the female undergrads.  He has to hack into several computer systems to get access to the pictures, breaking numerous university policies, and landing himself on academic probation along with a reputation as a creepy jerk on campus.

Meanwhile, the Winklevoss twins have come up with an idea for a website: Harvard Connect, a site like Myspace but with the exclusivity of only allowing members with harvard.edu email addresses (one of the early issues with Myspace is that its heavy concentration of musicians and other artists gave it a distinctly prole, uncouth vibe, which ultimately led to its decline into a sort of Internet ghetto).    After seeing Zuckerberg’s work with Facemash, the twins contact him to be their programmer in a joint venture to create Harvard Connect.  Over the next month, Zuckerberg steals their idea to create his own website “The Facebook,” all the while leading on the Winklevoss with various excuses for his delay in programming their site.  Zuckerberg’s actions, of course, are illegal intellectual property theft, but as with all things legal, possession is 9/10 of the law and there is little one can do in the short term to prevent it outside of a grinding, slow, expensive and uncertain lawsuit.

The Winklevoss find out about Zuckerberg’s betrayal and are furious.  However, in a particularly revealing scene, they refuse to sue him.  They have their father’s attorney send a cease and desist letter to Zuckerberg, which he ignores, but other than that the twins insist that they are “Harvard men of honor” who would not do something as vulgar as suing a fellow undergraduate.  They appeal to the President’s office, again revealing the WASPy naievity, as the Jewish head of Harvard, Larry Summers, tells the boys that Harvard will not get involved even though Zuckerberg’s actions violated the student handbook.  You can see the incredulity in their eyes as they confront Summers.  This Zuckerberg guy broke the rules, and you’re supposed to enforce the rules.  Their gentile brains, with their universalist delusions that everyone shares their innate sense of right and wrong (“good sportsmanship” and all that – which Jews see as a delusional, degenerate weakness on our part), simply cannot compute that Summers would refuse to follow Harvard’s own rule book.

Filed early, a lawsuit could have shut down Zuckerberg’s project before it reached critical mass, but their delay only served as evidence that an injunction was unnecessary, reducing their negotiating leverage.  Months later, the Winklevoss sue, but it was too late.  They end up settling for $60+ million, a small fraction of the value of Facebook.  Arguably, under the law, all of Zuckerberg’s profits and equity should have been seized and given to them.  Yet, legal reality is different.  As their lawyers no doubt advised them, when the Pharisees run the courts (which is especially true in the rats’ nest along the New York-Boston-DC Axis of Evil) it’s going to be nearly impossible for good Christians to get justice.

Zuckerberg is a particularly pathological character, of course, but he is an extreme archetype of Jews, particularly those hailing from Eastern Europe where the hatred of Gentiles was most acidic.  If the Winklevoss had inherited some of their ancestors’ old-fashioned anti-Semitism, they would have known that it’s generally a bad idea to do business with Jews.  Lacking the Christian sense of fair play and good sportsmanship (that even nominal, cultural Christians like the Winklevoss still largely possess, and reinforced through athletics), nursing resentments against our culture and people, the temptation to cheat is almost impossible for them to overcome.  The lesson for Christians is simple: avoid dealings with Jews, for they are too risky.

Now, some of you will be shocked by that statement.  But think about it: these are highly intelligent, aggressive people who are completely unregenerate and devoid of the Holy Spirit.  Not only that, they do not share our cultural heritage, which makes most non-Christian white Gentiles fairly Christian in their behavior (thankfully, and illogically, and dissipating as we get further from our heritage of genuine belief).  Many of you will protest that my prescription is illegal.  Actually, only employers have any sort of restriction on religious discrimination, and then only when you have 15 employees or more.  You are perfectly free to discriminate when hiring contractors, professionals like attorneys and accountants and business partners.  Since these are the individuals who can do you the most harm, making use of one’s right of free association is a key protective business strategy.  As a Christian, if you really believe regeneration is real and the Holy Spirit is real, I don’t see how you can not discriminate.  To say within the Church, that only believers are truly capable of good works, and then to totally ignore that theological postulate outside the Church is inconsistent.  It’s against the spirit of our age certainly, an age in which Christians are expected to never utter a word about the exclusivity of their faith and the absolute Kingship of Jesus Christ, but it’s not wrong.

The second lesson from the Winklevoss: we as Gentiles need to lose some of our naivety and natural trust in others.  We’re no longer living in a German village where everyone is your third cousin and theft, adultery and lying are unheard of (the analysis of the Roman historian Tacitus of the pagan Germans), such that you have the luxury of trusting everyone.  Quite simply, we need to involve lawyers and other advisers early in our business decision making process; the legal system in this country is a racket, not a justice system, and you have to hire an expert to make sure you play the racket correctly.  There’s a saying in legal circles, which I can confirm with painful experience, and it’s an acronym: ELAINE, which stands for Early Legal Advice Is Not Expensive.  If any of the characters cheated by Zuckerberg had bothered to have their own reasonably competent attorney review documents or create basic documents (for example, a non-disclosure agreement before sharing the idea with Zuckerberg), they could have avoided much heartache.  They might even be billionaires instead of multi-millionaires.  At the root of this though is another is another WASP defect: we’re cheap.  The Winklevoss, instead of having their own attorney vet and protect their business venture (an expense of a few thousand dollars to a family worth millions), used their father’s in-house corporate counsel to send the cease and desist letter.  They then held off for months before hiring an attorney to pursue their interests.

A wise man learns and profits from others’ mistakes.  Go and do likewise.

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