The real horror of the anti-vaxxers

Facts and reason fail when there's no vaccine against a preference for 'alternative facts'

How many studies do you have to throw at the vaccine hysterics before they quit? How much of a scientific consensus, how many unimpeachable experts and how exquisitely rational an argument must you present?

That's a trick question, of course. There's no magic number. There's no number, period. And that's because the anti-vaccine crowd (or anti-vaxxers) aren't trafficking in anything as concrete, mundane and quaint as facts. They are not really engaged in a debate about medicine. They're immersed in a world of conspiracies, in the dark shadows where no data can be trusted, nothing is what it seems and those who buy the party line are pitiable sheep.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2019, with the headline 'The real horror of the anti-vaxxers'. Print Edition | Subscribe