Washington Or Alabama - Who Is More Pro Science?
    By Hank Campbell | June 9th 2011 09:19 PM | 22 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    If I ask a science audience to guess, off the tops of our collective heads, which state would hold an irrational science position that was not only boneheaded but downright dangerous to each other and all of America, would you guess Alabama or Washington?

    Alabama is the South and everyone in wealthier northern and western states equate that with stupid - but highly educated, wealthy, progressive, organic-loving Washington state thinks that Big Pharma is is exploiting the American children and those of us who got our kids vaccinated are just part of the stupid bourgeois without any intellectual independence or healthy skepticism.    Alabama just accepts the science.

    The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) "Vaccination Coverage Among Children in Kindergarten --- United States, 2009--10 School Year" showed an alarming trend in progressive states - they increasingly don't want their kids vaccinated.

    Washington State had an overall alarming 6.2% exemptions requested by parents for their kids; dangerously close to the herd immunity threshold.   Alabama only had 0.5% exemptions, including for religious, philosophical or medical reasons - and Alabama is 94% religious while Washington state is only 75%.(1)   So much for religious people being more anti-science or stupid; not having your child die because some New Age hippie in a Whole Foods store told you vaccines cause autism is downright smart.

    And it isn't fringe kooks in some remote Washington wasteland, highly-educated Seattle had 5.3% exemptions.   An article in The Stranger (Not Safe For Work) notes more creatively than I do that six Seattle schools have kindergarten exemption rates higher than 20 percent.  20 percent!

    anti-vaccine in washington state

    We've had vaccine requirements for school since 1855 and the CDC has monitored compliance since 1978.  Vaccines are not new.     Why are educated, progressive people who like government programs suddenly opting out of vaccinations in droves?   

    Well, they are educated.   And selfish.   They understand herd immunity in a way lesser educated people do not and maintain a suspicion that, despite any scientific evidence, vaccines may cause autism and so they would like to have their kids protected from both.   The way for Washington parents to do that is to have the proletariat pump up the vaccine numbers to herd immunity levels, while their far-more-important special snowflakes benefit.

    It's downright capitalistic.  And dangerous.  When it comes to being pro-science this time, Alabama beats Washington hands down.


    (1) Mississippi topped all states with a non-compliance rate for the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine at just 0.3%


    Certainly I enjoy bashing Ironmentalists and all things Green, being a Magenta Person myself (the opposite of Green), but I must admit that I have recycled oh maybe 1,000 apartments and three single family homes, numerous automobiles, and maybe a ton of boooks in my time.

    I think it's a bit much to accuse the Enviro clowns of being capitalists as well as pigheaded elitist and often ignorant of the facts regarding the matter at hand. It's insulting to all capitalists, for starters.

    I think these educated allegedly competent upper middle class people are just stupid about significant things such as vacination for their children. Being comfortable but not individually powerful, their instinct is to try to minimize risk and especially blame. That's natural. Why they think people like themselves good sources for guidance on things they are perhaps aware that they do not understand all that well personally escapes me but I suppose it is a human nature type of thing. Too bad for them, and anyone their unvacinated family members pass an infection to.

    But I will admit I think it a waste of my time to try to communicate with Greenies. The piece I comment on is being published to an audience that probably includes plenty of Enviornmentalists and sympathisers. I DON'T LIKE THE PIECE!

    Those likely to consider the arguement being made don't need the bombast denigrating the Antivacinationists. And the Antivacinations aren't going to listen more closely for the article calling them Unprintable things about as plainly as one could and remain Printable.

    Maybe this is just the kind of evolutionary pressure we need on anti-vaccine green weenies.

    BTW, all three of my now adult children got their shots.......
    Never is a long time.
    They are gradually recycling themselves out of existence if their kids die more but I don't think it will come to that.   I assume kids who grow in WA will look around and realize they are surrounded by idiotic hippies and move so this will be a generational blip.     Even a fad, since not getting a vaccine is chic among trendy progressives.
    How is the Washington behavior being capitalistic? Honest question based on my lack of understanding of the English language. Do you pay for vaccines so those who do not vaccine save money, and then those who buys create a market (income) they as owners of the companies benefit from? Or am I being stupid as a Washingtonese? :-)

    People in Alabama must be smarter than their redneck image indicate. Actually being a redneck doesn't imply being stupid, maybe just having a questionable style...(questioned by some that is) :-)

    Thanks for countering the dangerous fashion of not giving vaccine to your kids! Somebody has to provide sensible information here.
    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
    How is the Washington behavior being capitalistic? 
    Capitalism believes individual choice is paramount - in this case, if they are concerned about a risk of autism they don't want their kids to get a vaccine, but they still support the vaccine program so that other kids will provide herd immunity for their kids.   
    Ah! The choice thingy. :-) Coming from a horrible socialistic country I have no clue, have I? :-)

    Seriously, I honestly do not understand why that anti-vaccine wave has taken off the way it seems to have. Really a true mystery to me; capitalistic, socialistic, anarchistic, you name it system, still I do not get it.
    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
    Is it anywhere else but the US?   Americans originally left Europe to have more independence and freedom so skepticism is ingrained in our culture, that part I understand and is healthy enough - but the more militant left distrusts corporations yet love government, which makes no sense, and the militant right are just the opposite, which also makes no sense - to anyone who understands how the government and corporations are intertwined, anyway.
    Gerhard Adam
    Americans originally left Europe to have more independence and freedom so skepticism is ingrained in our culture, that part I understand and is healthy enough...
    You've mentioned this before, and I just don't see it.  The early colonists largely came over because of economic opportunity or to escape "religious persecution" (i.e. they were treated like cults).  If I recall, Georgia was originally colonized largely by the overflow from English prisons or others that could "work off their sentence".  Almost all the activity in the colonies was run by chartered companies (i.e. corporations) that were established by the king to exploit the resources of this "new land".

    In effect, the original colonists never gave freedom and independence any thought.  This was only established by the insurgents that later formed a new revolutionary government and went to war.  Even the Revolutionary War was not popularly supported by many of the colonies (being seen originally as primarily a problem of the north). 

    My point in all of this is not to discuss the history, but rather your assertion that Americans are somehow more "skeptical" because of this cultural background.  I don't think they're skeptical at all.  I think that they behave as "cultists" where every significant movement or group in the U.S. takes on the aura of a religious belief (whether it be the founding fathers, or corporate conspiracies, or government largesse).  I can found no consensus among people that would represent actual independence of thought (although it obviously occurs among individuals).  This is precisely why the U.S. can't even engage in a political dialogue or have discussions without turning it into a competition between opposing groups (i.e. blue/red state).  It simply never seems to occur to anyone that people may have ideas and not need to be affiliated with a particular group.

    So, the point about anti-vaccination groups versus religious groups doesn't illustrate anything about education or science.  It simply reflects our willingness to engage in cultish behavior and conforming to the beliefs of the group.
    Mundus vult decipi
    We were also taught that the reason for most of the emigration to the US was famine and poverty. Some of my American friends also say that it were those with extreme religious views who escaped over the dam as well (hence attempting to explain the religious extremism in US today).

    Both those from Ireland and from my country mainly escaped poverty.

    I do not agree that the Americans are more skeptical than lets say Europeans. One could argue that on the contrary, with the extremism we see a lot of in the US (to me there are communities that are just as extreme as some muslims in the US, only Christian) it seems like there is a lack of skepticism rather.

    I think there is something to Hank's point though, that your political and religious views do not necessarily correspond to your science education. I mean, go look at the Vatican museum and you'll understand that condemning Galileo had nothing to do with lack of scientific knowledge, it was pure politics. They knew that the Sun was in the middle, of course. :-)
    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
     I think that they behave as "cultists" where every significant movement or group in the U.S. takes on the aura of a religious belief (whether it be the founding fathers, or corporate conspiracies, or government largesse).

      It simply never seems to occur to anyone that people may have ideas and not need to be affiliated with a particular group.

    It seems that's exactly what you're doing. I don't see much of this kind of behavior, even among the religious people I know and meet. I do find people to be very competitive, even if it's only rooting for their favorite team.


    One could argue that on the contrary, with the extremism we see a lot of in the US

    If this is the view that's projected elsewhere, we need a better PR Dept.
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    I don't see much of this kind of behavior, even among the religious people I know and meet. I do find people to be very competitive, even if it's only rooting for their favorite team.
    Well, that's actually my point (regarding the teams).  Politics has shifted from discussion to scoring points for your team (blue or red).  As a result, it is often viewed that if you express a particular idea you're immediately labeled regardless of your actual philosophy.  I'm not sure what you mean by "competitive" in your statement, although I agree that many people view the competition to be between the various factions they believe in.

    All you have to do is to read the posts by the "true believers" on this site to recognize individuals that are clearly not thinking for themselves but simply repeating the talking points of their favorite "cult".  Even the conspiracy nuts embrace the notion that there is an "us" versus "them" mentality.  This is the tone of the anti-vax crowd, the pro-marriage/gay marriage, pro/anti-abortion, etc. 

    It is clear that people are not thinking for themselves, because they're attempting to use the sledgehammer of legislation to get their point across.  People are not content to let others have a different view and instead they want to legislate behavior and morality for the entire nation.

    I agree that you can have reasonable conversations with people, provided you get them on a one for one basis.  I also realize that often there's undue media attention that creates an impression of a bigger divide than may actually exist.  However, given the political nature of these divides, they simply can't be ignored.
    Mundus vult decipi
    The poverty was ingrained in the remnants of the feudal system - some in England like to brag they outlawed slavery 20 years before the US but they didn't need slaves on a small island, they had plenty of serfs working in worse conditions than slaves.   The reason America broke away so quickly was not simply because they wanted religious freedom, no one in America took the Anglican church seriously, but independence of the economic kind and much more.   Getting science fact dictated by the King of England was not superior to having it dictated by the Pope but regardless of its origin - Gerhard disagrees in scope - the mythology became intellectual independence and when that becomes the story of the country more people become that.

    This is why when surveys are produced saying Europe believes this or that more than the US, most of the US (self-loathing types aside) don't care; unwavering belief in experts and the government is not something America wants to emulate.  People want it to be proven.
    'just as extreme as Muslim countries, only christian.' The left's moral equivalency argument, I see. The darn chrstians, strapping bombs to their children, and killing those who stray from the religion? Hmmmm, nope. Chopping various fun parts off their women? Not that either. And yes, there was an abortion doctor killed, compared with over 17,000 deadly attacks around the world by Muslims since 9-11. If you are from Europe, look at your birth rates, and those of your peaceful immigrants. Especially Spain and Italy. Your time is running out. But keep up your fantasies. In Britain and Sweden they are already seeing it. Watching Christians is easier, and making fun of them has far less dire consequences (Danish cartoons anyone?). Your time is running out.

    And here I thought you were going to mention all the rocket scientists and engineers in Huntsville, AL. Did you do a state by state analysis of the education levels of citizens of both states? Or are you just making an assumption? Curious.

    The intent was not to do a state-by-state comparison of 50 states or even 2, it was to puncture the myth that Alabama people, being more religious and less educated, are less inclined to accept science than a progressive state like Washington.   The often-promoted myth among progressives is that religious people and conservatives are less inclined to accept science than their opposites.

    MSFC engineers do not raise the education level of the entire state enough to overtake Washington (or TN and MS would also top education scores, which they do not) - but vaccine acceptance shows that education level does not make people any smarter if their weirdo hippie beliefs push science to the side.
    Why do you assume the people in Washington who aren't vaccinating their children are "progressives?" They could be republicans, tea party types, libertarians or independents. Every state has different laws concerning vaccinations, so that could be part of it as well. I don't know about Washington, but children have to provide proof of vaccination in Alabama to attend school. Yes, there's a religious belief exemption, but few religions in practice ban vaccinations.

    While Washington is considered a blue state, that doesn't mean that the people in that state who choose not to vaccinate are "progressives." I think to make such an assertion valid some sort of actual study would have be done, data collected, etc.

    In order for it to be Republicans, there would need to be more of them withholding vaccinations in just Seattle than there are in the whole city.    It's as ridiculous a defense as saying people in Kansas who want creation taught in science classes are progressives.

    If you don't like progressive anti-science nutjobs making all progressives look bad, stand up to them the way I stand up to conservative nutjobs with anti-science positions.   Rationalizing their behavior is not the answer.
    Oh, I wouldn't be surprised to hear some Washingtonian claim they're smarter because they know enough to recognize that vaccines are bad ;)
    Never is a long time.
    The anti-vaccination wave grew because vaccinations have been so successful. How many of us have ever seen someong suffering from polio? Do you know anyone whose child died of measles or who gave birth to a disabled child because she had German measles during pregnancy? Have you seen any smallpox victims recently? We do not see these things because vaccines have been so successful. As familiarity with those diseases fades, people with no scientific background or curiousity begin to dream up all sorts of conspiracies.

    Big Pharma does itself no favors with overly aggressive marketing.   You can't be sued over a vaccine so when Merck lost a multi-billion dollar settlement over Vioxx and then started implying pre-teen girls were going to die if they didn't get an HPV vaccine, that had to set off alarms among more tuned-in consumers.     The backlash to that is if greedy companies exploit the goodwill of vaccines to start rolling our mass recommendations for more obscure things (shingles, etc.) then people will start to believe all vaccines are non-essential.  And that is very bad.
    Autism is happening more and more and something is at the root of it.

    I'm extremely leery of the number of vaccinations and timing onset of Autism symptoms. I'm not against vaccinations at all. I just think that if I had kids, I'd wait a while before hitting them with the MMR.

    Shingles vaccines are a must in the elder population, you should see what it does to a cornea........nasty stuff my friend, nasty stuff.

    I know it is nasty but it got worse in the generation that got the chickenpox vaccine, right?   The issue we will run into with vaccinating for everything is that we become susceptible to the unknown.

    You are knowledgeable about shingles and not so much on autism so your willingness to consider a vaccine may somehow cause autism is related to that.  Autism is either diagnosed more effectively than it used to be or over-diagnosed.   But it isn't caused by vaccines.