There’s a new documentary coming soon. It’s called The Greater Good, and it purports to take an objective, rational perspective on the issue of vaccine safety.
According to the description provided below its trailer on YouTube, the film looks…
…behind the fear, hype and politics that have polarized the vaccine debate in America today. The film re-frames the emotionally charged issue and offers, for the first time, the opportunity for a rational and scientific discussion on how to create a safer and more effective vaccine program.
Although we cannot review the movie itself since we have only the trailer to go on, let’s take a look at that trailer:
Oh boy! Where to begin?
There’s a lot of distortions and logical fallacies in there.
1. While the number of vaccines has increased, the number of antigens (the only thing that actually matters) in those vaccines is lower than the previous generation.
2. False equivalency, or false balance, by treating Barbara Loe Fisher as if she’s an authority when she has no medical background and has a long history of making factually incorrect statements.
3. Baseless linking vaccines to alleged rise in disabled children. This is a red herring. They start us off by saying they’re investigating vaccine safety, and then they go off on a tangent about how there are allegedly more children with disabilities today than in the past, leading viewers to make the connection themselves. There are also lots more children in general today than in the past. So what? How do we know there’s a rise in disabled children? And if there really is, how do we know it wasn’t the decline of prohibition that caused it? Why assume vaccines are to blame when all the science clearly demonstrates otherwise?
4. Leading questions such as 34 seconds into the clip when we see a local news reporter ask: “What if these shots that are supposed to protect kids actually hurt your child?” In response, as I’ve asked before, what if broccoli came to life and starting eating you? Anyone can simply ask speculative questions, but to do so in a film trailer like this one makes the intent quite transparent; it appears designed to manipulate viewers into making a connection between vaccines and harm, even though no specific claim nor evidence has been asserted.
For instance, suppose I asked what if the very crossing guards you trusted to protect your kids were really harming them? Now I haven’t actually said crossing guards are risking child safety; I merely subtly insinuated it with an unstated major premise. Now just imagine if I had asked what if the very *Hispanic* crossing guards you trusted to protect your kids were really harming them? All of a sudden, I’m giving the impression that Hispanic crossing guards are less safe than non-Hispanic crossing guards without ever actually making an accusation.
5. There’s no such thing as “complete” research, so asserting that research on vaccine safety is incomplete is deceptive and again hints at doubt that may not (and in this case, doesn’t) really exist.
6. Vioxx is used as a red herring. Nothing regarding the case of Vioxx has anything to do with whether vaccines are safe. This is the ever-popular tactic of trying to poison the well of pharmaceutical companies. The next step of course is to try and link all vaccine research to pharmaceutical companies so that it appears that all vaccine research is suspect…
7. …which is exactly what the trailer does next by unambiguously stating the majority of vaccine research is paid for by pharmaceutical companies. This is probably false but I can’t imagine the amount of effort required to actually determine this. Why, one would have to look at the funding sources for every vaccine study, ever! And if the filmmakers have done so, I’d love to see those notes. But of course, even if it were the case that most vaccine research was funded by pharma, that, in and of itself, would not invalidate any of that research one bit as well-known protocols exist to keep funding sources from tainting research…cause scientists aren’t stupid.
8. Implying advertising equals vaccines are bad = huh? Somehow, this trailer manages to make the mere use of advertising by pharmaceutical companies sound sinister. I also sometimes see commercials for Old Navy. OH MY GOD! Old Navy is plotting to kill us all!!!!
9. The trailer claims you can’t sue for vaccine injury. This is, of course, patently false. You absolutely CAN sue for vaccine injury. We have a vaccine court, which compensate many plaintiffs each year in cases of unavoidable risks, and vaccine manufacturers can be sued directly in negligence cases where the harms were avoidable.
10. Someone in the trailer is heard saying out of context, “it’s politics, not science” The steps taking to keep vaccines safe absolutely are science and not politics.
11. Vaccines are safe REGARDLESS of the filmmaker’s shameless ploy to convert libertarians to his or her misguided anti-scientific cause. Again, this is just the chocolate and vanilla gambit from Thank You For Smoking, where the subject is changed from the science to empty platitudes about freedom…cause everyone loves freedom and so you can never be wrong.
12. Adults are not forced to be vaccinated. And with regard to children, there are medical, religious, and philosophical exemptions. However, public schools absolutely do have the right to maintain policies that will best protect kids from deadly diseases…even if anti-vaxxers would rather put everyone’s lives at risk for their precious freedom to be as reckless as they want.
13. Someone in the video states that vaccine critics are not zealots. The overwhelming evidence suggests otherwise. The leaders of the current movement against vaccines are the very definition of zealots who invent conspiracy theories to deny facts and maintain their ideology no matter what.
14. Barbara Loe Fisher states in the trailer there’s there’s no accountability when nothing could be further from the truth. There’s PLENTY of accountability regarding vaccine safety.
15. Contrary to the awful display in this trailer, neither parents nor health officials are to blame for disease, and shame on the filmmakers for misinforming parents into thinking they bear some responsibility for these tragedies, so much so that it brings them to tears.
16. We ALREADY have shown Barbara Loe Fisher the science and she ALREADY has the choice. She’s been free to not vaccinate & spout her baseless accusations for years.
17. And last but not least, the trailer provides no data at all to support its thesis that vaccines aren’t safe and yet features no shortage of anecdotal evidence of alleged vaccine victims. Well, two can play that game. Once again, here’s a link to videos about infants who were harmed because they and the people around them WEREN’T vaccinated.
I also stumbled upon this article about the film where the filmmakers expose their real agenda with a pathetic straw man that mainstream medicine rejects anyone who questions the “status quo” of vaccines. That is simply not true. The fact is that actual medical authorities constantly challenge the “status quo.” That’s what science is. It’s not the fault of medical experts that some anti-vaccine fanatics refuse to accept reality, and reject the fact that vaccines are both more than reasonably safe, and more than reasonably effective.