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Saturday, July 18, 2020

Vaccines and Conspiracy Theory

In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread  And among those diseases could be COVID-19The antivaxxers are joining up with protests against the coronavirus shutdown. Belief in conspiracy is a common denominator.

Peter Jamison at WP:
Although African Americans stand to benefit enormously from a vaccine, they remain distrustful of a medical establishment with a history that includes the Tuskegee syphilis study and surgical experiments on enslaved people — not to mention the ongoing disparities they confront in the U.S. health-care system.

A recent Washington Post poll found that 63 percent of black adults said they were likely to get a coronavirus vaccine, compared with 70 percent of whites and 78 percent of Hispanics. Only 32 percent of black adults said they would definitely get a vaccine, compared with 45 percent of whites and Hispanics.
Assertions of disproportionate harm to African Americans from inoculation are often based on a 2004 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study that set off one of the more bizarre episodes in vaccine science history. That study, conducted in Georgia, observed slightly higher rates of autism among children who had received immunizations than among those who had not. The authors said this was probably because autistic children were required to be vaccinated to participate in preschool special-education programs.

Their findings were called into question when one of the authors, William Thompson, later claimed the CDC had suppressed data showing a stronger link between vaccines and autism in black children than in white children. Thompson’s allegations, made during secretly recorded telephone conversations with anti-vaccine activist Brian Hooker, were never substantiated. A 2014 paper Hooker published on the subject was retracted.
Anna Merlan at Vice:
But it’s not just QAnon. The strain of living in this particular time, with a dragging, devastating pandemic and a global uprising against police brutality and racial injustice, crashing together at the highest speed, has accelerated something that’s been going on for years. Call it the conspiracy singularity: the place where many conspiracy communities are suddenly meeting and merging, a melting pot of unimaginable density. UFO conspiracy theorists and QAnon fans are advocating for drinking a bleach solution promoted by anti-vaxxers. QAnon groups and Reopen America groups alike promoted Plandemic , a film clip jam-packed with conspiratorial claims about the causes and spread of COVID. The Freedom Angels, an anti-vaccine group based in California, are among the many such groups joining anti-lockdown protests, using language that feels heavily drawn from the Patriot movement: They're calling stay-at-home orders “tyranny,” addressing their followers as “Patriots,” and positioning themselves as “a new civil rights movements.” (They urged people to burn their facemasks on July 4th, adding, floridly: “Join millions of Americans on Independence Day as we show all these BLUE STATE GOVERNORS, SWAMP DOCS, and DEEP STATE RATS 🐀 how we feel about their latest ORDERS, DICTATES and MANDATES to wear our muzzles again.”)