One of the stranger arguments made by vaccine critics over the years references an episode of the television sitcom The Brady Bunch where the kids came down with measles. The argument goes that because measles was treated as just a minor inconvenience for the family and not a life and death struggle on the show, it demonstrates medical authorities warning the public of serious risks from measles are nothing but alarmists using fear-mongering to increase vaccine sales for Big Pharma.
This Brady Bunch argument seems to originate with a tweet from leading vaccine critic Jay Gordon and has been repeated everywhere from random internet forums to Age of Autism, sometimes citing variations including different television shows and different vaccine-preventable diseases.
The most recent version, posted on Age of Autism, refers to a clip from a children’s cartoon called Arthur in which parents reassure their child that chickenpox is not serious. Nobody seemed to panic on the TV show and health authorities weren’t quick to condemn the show’s irresponsibility, so that must mean these diseases aren’t serious…right?
Wrong. I could harp all day on how utterly absurd it is to suggest television writers are better judges of the seriousness of childhood diseases than actual medical experts, but that would just be a rerun of the old “Playboy bunny is not a medical expert” rant. And I could cite past medical statistics showing how serious a problem measles was in first-world nations before widespread vaccination, but I know vaccine critics will just attribute it all to cleaner water and better diet, etc. And if I point out that measles, for instance, is one of the leading causes of child death, they’ll just deny it.
No, there’s a much better way to dispel this myth that these diseases don’t carry any serious consequences, one that utilizes the same emotional tactics vaccine critics thrive on. Pointing to real anecdotal cases of families who have experienced first-hand the destructive power of diseases like measles and chickenpox.
For instance, watch Rachel’s story as well as this family’s story concerning chickenpox and numerous other personal accounts of the serious — sometimes even deadly — consequences of contracting vaccine-preventable diseases. There’s also a direct refutation of Jay Gordon’s response comments here.