Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Vaccines and Ammunition

Warning - Rant ahead!

I'm finding a parallel lately between two subjects, which for most people are usually pretty disparate. However, being "Dr. LateBloomer", in my life they're not so disparate. Those subjects are Vaccines and Ammunition. I could hardly have picked two more inflammatory subjects to address this evening, but this is a rant, so "Damn the torpedoes - Full Steam Ahead"!

How do those two subjects end up playing in the same sandbox in my mind you ask? Because both are being attacked by those who have agendas. And the tools used for those attacks are exactly the same - Ignorance and Misinformation.

Let me start with vaccines, and you may soon start seeing parallels with some recent news about rifle ammunition. 

I have been asked by parents for the third time in a month if vaccines "contain aborted fetuses". My initial reaction was "Whiskey". "Tango". "Foxtrot". In other words - "What in blue blazes are you talking about?". After the third inquiry, I'd had enough, and decided to get to the bottom of this ridiculous bit of inflammatory misinformation. 

It turns out that this is just the anti-vaxxer's way of moving the goalpost. Since their autism claims have been disproven, they've moved on to claims about aborted fetuses as vaccine ingredients instead.

As with most intentional misinformation campaigns, this starts with a tiny kernel of truth, and relies upon general ignorance of science and fact to launch the subsequent hysteria. ( Is any of this sounding similar to anti-gunner tactics?)

The tiny kernel of truth in this instance is that vaccines start with growing viruses (or bacteria as the case may be). Viruses in particular are very picky about how they allow themselves to be grown in a laboratory. The pickier ones will only grow inside actual animal or human cells (called cell culture) The pickiest ones will only grow inside specific human cells. The cells for this type of culture are grown and sold commercially in a complicated, and very scientific process of cell line propagation. The cells are just that - "cells". They are not "tissue", they are not "people" and they are not "fetuses" - aborted or not. 

Cell lines are essentially potting soil for growing viruses. The true misinformation lies here. Because some human cell lines now commercially available and used for growing viruses for vaccines, originated from cells collected for scientific purposes, from donated fetuses aborted legally for medical reasons in the 1960's; people who are scientifically unsophisticated think this means that vaccines "contain" aborted fetuses. This is no more true than saying that your baby food applesauce has manure and dirt as an "ingredient" - just because the apple tree which produced the apples required soil and fertilizer to grow.

It's actually even further away than that. These cell lines have been propagated ( cells induced to divide to make new cells) hundreds of millions or trillions of times or even more in the 50 years since the original cells were first collected. These no more represent the original human being they were collected from, than the man in the moon. Add to that, the fact that those cells are only used to grow the VIRUS, which is then even further refined to make the vaccine, and you can see how ridiculous ( yet inflammatory) those claims are.

Even the Vatican has weighed in on this. My paraphrase of that position is that although the abortion 50 years ago was an evil, until a better way is found to grow the virus, it would be an even greater evil to allow our children and the general population to be exposed to suffering and death, if there exists this useful, if imperfect, way to prevent it.

So, are you seeing any parallels with general anti-gunner propaganda methods? They've been trying to move the goalpost again too. They've been unsuccessful banning guns, so now they're going after ammo. They tried with "lead", and now the ATF is trying on the "armor-piercing" label to see if it sticks. Though I admit that the term "armor-piercing" isn't quite as inflammatory as the term "aborted fetuses", it is just as misleading and just as untrue to the situation. But the uninformed general public doesn't know enough to question it - in either situation.

This is what the "anti's" of whatever stripe count upon - ignorance. Ignorance like that demonstrated by the White House press secretary who claimed that the firearms which used this ammunition were "easily concealed", and that allowing such ammo to continue to be available "puts our law enforcement at considerably more risk."

The reality is that AR-"pistols" are far from "concealable", and there is no evidence that law enforcement has EVER been "at risk" at all from such ammo, let alone "more" at risk now than they were when the ammo was originally waived back in the 1980's. AND any rifle round will penetrate soft police armor anyway. AND the M855 round doesn't even meet the ATF's OWN definition of an armor-piercing round to begin with.

But the uninformed don't know that either - they are just afraid of guns, know nothing about ammo, and believe the misinformation campaign. 

It's the same way with people who are afraid of vaccines - they know nothing of science ( or know just enough to be dangerous), and they also believe the misinformation campaign.

With both of these issues ( and indeed all of our issues), what we need as a country, is more citizens who are GENUINELY informed - with rational, logical thought, backed up by scientific evidence and reliable data - rather than glaze-eyed "followers", whose sole driving motivation is fear of everything that they do not understand.

Rant over.

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