It's Vaccine Awareness Week over at Respectful Insolence. I am enjoying Orac's series very much, and I thought I'd share his posts from Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and today.
I got started on all of this (and actually it woke up an interest in real science that I think had been sleeping for years) when an old friend found me on Facebook and started talking about all of this 'vaccines cause autsim' nonsense. I instinctively knew that her position was BS, but frankly I didn't know very much about it. So I did what anyone would do under the circumstances: I Googled it.
Lo and behold. Enter Orac.
This caused a flood of new scientific data for me, and I spent a HUGE amount of time reading everything I could get my hands on. It's like working in veterinary clinics had starved my brain of nutrition for so long, and I was desperately hungry to feed my intellect. Once I had literally read the entire Respectful Insolence archive (5 years or so) I hungrily devoured the content at Pharyngula and all of the other blogs that I now happily and proudly link to on the left of this post.
It inspired and fed my skeptical sensibilities. The facets of scientific argument and scientific inquiry came out from where they'd been stored for years, and by dint of new knowledge and a new awareness got a spit shine and polish.
This experience actually helped me sort out and come to grips with my lack of religious belief. I had the time to consider (here a word that means mull, chew over voraciously, discuss at length with a very patient husband, and settle on a conclusion) how I felt about religion and being an atheist. And I must say that it makes me very happy indeed.
Funny story: I made a comment on an old friend's Facebook on how the Huffington Post (what Orac calls a villainous hive of scum and quackery; guaranteed to make me smile) bears at least some of the responsibility for the pertussis outbreak in Southern California for propagating misinformation and scare tactics on vaccines. Someone else who saw that post vigorously denied what I said, and went on (after multiple arguments) to quote Joe Mercola at me to say that vaccinations aren't really down, that outbreaks follow cycles, and that it is because of the urban poor. (We'll leave the racism and class stereotypes for another post, shall we?)
Let's be crystal clear here. Someone quoted Joe Mercola at me. To defend Huffpo.