Vaccine Fallacy Discussion

The topic of vaccines really gets people revved up. And, as a result, logic is usually thrown out the window. Just by claiming that people have made logical fallacies in an argument about vaccines as I did recently on a fallacious article is enough to spur a new onslaught of fallacies amid the basic name-calling:

“Brian” did have some somewhat useful points to contribute, copied here with responses:

Considering your anti-vaccine rant repeats a bunch of anti-vaccine nonsense, I highly doubt you care much about the truth. For example,

JSB says “Sure there are fallacies from the skeptical crowd, but it seems there are exponentially more from the proponents of vaccines.”
This made me laugh, and the rest of your article explains why.

JSB says “If you even dare to express doubt over the efficacy or validity of any vaccine, you’re labeled a denier on par with those who reject historical evidence of the holocaust.”
Nope. I’ve seen tons of “pro-vaxxers”acknowledge limitations of various vaccines based on evidence, and none of them has been treated as a holocaust denier.

Section #1 JSB says “Saying you’re either for or against vaccines is a false dichotomy fallacy and treating all vaccines the same is a logical fallacy and a potentially deadly one at that.”
Straw-man fallacy. Nobody is saying to treat *all* vaccines the same. The vast majority are in development or never make it into a recommended schedule. Most will certainly recommend all that are on the long-term recommended schedule, because those have been proven via safety and efficacy testing.

Section 1: Straw man arguments are those that no one makes and that is easy to knock down. This isn’t the case with the part-to-whole because as the link in the article makes clear people DO lump all vaccines together. Just because you understand that there’s a difference between the smallpox and HPV vaccines doesn’t mean that everyone thinks that and clearly they don’t.

Section #2 JSB says ““Science says vaccines are effective.” No, science doesn’t say anything. Science isn’t a unified body that has one voice and it is unscientific to believe any one scientist simply because he’s a scientist. Do your own research and come to your own conclusions.”
Ambiguity fallacy The EVIDENCE that science produces is what matters.

Section 2: The main point here is that people think that all science is uniform and settled, especially with regard to vaccines, but as we’ve established above, not all vaccines are the same and the science is still coming in. True there is ambiguity in “science” that could very well mean data from scientific studies. That’s not my argument.

Section #3 JSB says “Guillain-Barré syndrome is a known side effect of the flu vaccine”
GBS is also a complication of influenza infection, so in the big picture, the flu vaccine can actually prevent cases of GBS by preventing the flu.

Section 3: Interesting, but it appears that the vaccine increases the risk of GBS: “If there is an increased risk of GBS following flu vaccination it is small, on the order of one to two additional GBS cases per million doses of flu vaccine administered.” So if your theory is correct, accounting for the decreased incidence because of flu protection, the increased risk is much higher than the CDC is accounting for.

Section #5 JSB says “about 1 child dies every two years from [MMR vaccine]”
“it has also been shown that the HPV vaccine has led to death.”
“The national Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) takes over 11,000 reports of vaccine injury every year, 2 percent of which result in death.”
False cause/post hoc fallacy None of your sources show vaccines were the cause of any of these or at rates even close to what you state.

Section 5: True double-blind placebo studies are considered “unethical” and haven’t been conducted for vaccines, so we’re left with the data we have in the imperfect studies and VAERS. Do you agree that there is a risk in these various vaccines, just not that high? Or are you saying that there is no risk of adverse side effect to any vaccine? What is your point here?

Section #6 JSB says “In most cases, only people with compromised immune systems, the young and elderly, and/or sexually active people can contract certain communicable diseases.”
*Citations needed

Section 6: Apologies, this should be common knowledge. Here are the demographics most at risk of flu: Sexually-transmitted diseases (HPV, Hep B) are self-explanatory.

Section #7 JSB says “There are some pretty dumb people out there…”
Ironic. There’s a difference between an ad hominem attack and an ad hominem fallacy. You should learn the difference.

Section 7: Ironic. I’m giving people the benefit of the doubt that they’re actually trying to make a point as opposed to just calling people names. Guess I’m wrong in many cases.

Section #9 JSB says “What’s more important is that Wakefield and his colleague were exonerated on all charges of professional misconduct
Composition/division fallacy I always laugh at this anti-vax talking point, because it’s a dead giveaway the person hasn’t done their research. Walker-Smith (only) was exonerated, in part, because he placed the blame squarely on Wakefield. Wakefield is still guilty, is still banned from practicing medicine, and his paper is still retracted as fraudulent. Beyond that, his theories are dismissed because subsequent research not only failed to replicate Wakefield’s results, but rather conclusively showed that vaccines are not associated with autism.

Section 9: As I understand it, the only reason Wakefield wasn’t part of the lawsuit is that he couldn’t afford it. From the decision, it’s not clear that Walker-Smith’s exoneration shouldn’t apply to Wakefield as well: “For the reasons given above, both on general issues and the Lancet paper and in relation to individual children, the panel’s overall conclusion that Professor Walker-Smith was guilty of serious professional misconduct was flawed, in two respects: inadequate and superficial reasoning and, in a number of instances, a wrong conclusion.”

What you and many people may have missed in Wakefield’s study is the more important gut-brain connection. More and more research is finding gastrointestinal issues correlated with ASD, the apparent cause being disruption of the microbiome through antibiotic use. It may be that vaccines may contribute to this secondarily by causing ear infections (six vaccines list ear infections as side effects), which are often treated with antibiotics.

Section #10 JSB says “VAERS is the only official vaccine injury reporting system in the US by federal mandate, there is no other way to access data.”
Nope. “Adverse events” are not the same thing as “vaccine injuries”. Learn the difference. There are also many other sources of information.

Section 10: Please point me in the direction of these many other sources.

Section #11 JSB says “I recommend “The Vaccine Book” by Dr. Sears”
Appeal to authority fallacy
Would that be the same Dr. Sears who admitted that there is no evidence for the claims he makes in his book? So why on earth would you recommend it?

Section 11: Vaccine Book is a good overview of all the vaccines on the CDC section. Where did he say there is no evidence for the claims he makes in his book?

About JSB Morse

JSB Morse is a husband, father, entrepreneur, writer, artist, and lover of mangoes.