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What is it about Winona, MN and antivaccinationists?

A couple of weeks ago, I linked to an amazingly ignorant antivaccination screed published in the Winona Daily News. In the comments, I was made aware of another antivaccination screed in the form of a letter to the editor to the Winona Post. (Unfortunately, I am unable to locate it online.) Now, today, I find that there are people in Winona who are trying to outdo Jim and Laurie Jenkinson (the authors of the first article) in serious stupidity in the form of a letter to the editor published in the Winona Daily News entitled It Is Important to Learn More About Vaccinations.

I’d normally agree that it’s important to learn more about vaccinations were it not for my observation that apparently the “more about vaccinations” that the authors of this article, Andrea Dornbusch, Helen Sutter and Maria Grunz, want you to “learn about” is a load of antivaccinationist distortions, misinformation, conspiracy mongering, and logical fallacies. Indeed, the “more” that these brilliant scholars (who can’t seem to write a coherent sentence) want you to learn includes rants about “trace” amounts of thimerosal remaining in vaccines, rants against big pharma, and a real gem of antivaccinationist stupidity that distinguishes itself from the pack through its sheer chutzpah:

We do not allow some of the ingredients found in vaccines to be sprayed on our food, yet we are injecting them into our children. It will always be a debate if any ingredient in vaccines is the cause for a wide variety of disorders because people are people and everyone has their opinion.

Oh, no! Toxins! The Evil Big Pharma Overlords and their CDC lackeys r poysnin ur babies! Run away!

How do we know this?

Because three twits writing a letter to a small town newspaper think so. That’s right. Science doesn’t matter. All those epidemiological studies that have failed to find a link between thimerosal and autism don’t matter. All those epidemiological studies that failed to find a link between vaccines in general and autism don’t matter. All that matters is that “everyone has their opinion.”

Never mind that opinions are like…well, you’ve heard the saying before.

The Winona Antivax Three do sort of get one thing right, though. As long as people as ignorant as them have “opinions” that they can somehow represent as being on the same order of magnitude of value as scientific data, there will always be a “debate.” It just won’t be a scientific debate. It’s a debate with basic science and epidemiology on the one side and overheated scientifically ignorant conspiracy theories on the other side. In other words, it’s a pseudodebate, and it’s one in which scientists have one hand tied behind their backs because it is considered “arrogant” to tell such people bluntly that they just plain have no clue what they’re talking about.

Still, I wonder. What is it about Winona, MN that seems to produce so many antivaccination rants? Is it something in the water? I don’t recall ever having heard of the town before I was made aware of the first article that set me off.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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