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The below is a screenshot of a comment made to One Vaxxed Nurse on Twitter. An anti-vaxxer by the screenname “concerned parent” equated nurses advocating for vaccination to nurses who assisted in the torture and killing of Jews during the Holocaust.

In this Ill informed comment, the poster warned that nurses who get “stuck in ideology” may forget their humanity- implying that vaccination is an ideology reminiscent of Neo-nazism that gave rise to unethical and grotesque human medical experimentation.

Philosopher Karl Popper defined the distinction between science and ideology as follows: “if a theory is in principle open to being disproved or ‘falsified’ by the facts of the world, then it is scientific. If it is not open to being falsified by the facts of the world, then it is pseudo-science, ideology.”

The scientific study and practice of vaccination undergoes constant and continuous scrutiny and evaluation in a never ending search for falsification- the basic principal that Popper applied in distinguishing between scientific theory and ideology. When the studies contradict the known and accepted facts, the scientific consensus accepts these findings and adjusts its recommendations accordingly.

In contrast, the theories proposed by Anti-vaccine movement participants have been disproven by the facts of the world at every turn. Still, they cling to the ideals of their conspiracy theories even in the face of facts of the world that disprove them. Clinging to this ideology indeed causes measurable and immeasurable human and economic harms.

Even with vaccine denial having a more clearly distinct connection with deeply held ideas that cause bodily harm, vaccine proponents are not found routinely comparing anti-vaxxers to Nazi executioners because it would be a gross and inflammatory statement grounded in emotion rather than evidence. This is the fundamental difference in the support of science backed vaccines and ideal based anti-vaccination motivation- evidence vs emotion.

When a group or entity resorts to invoking or comparing its opponent to members of the Nazi regime or their horrific crimes against humanity they exhibit a desperate and abhorrent attempt to induce emotion over reason. This tactic sacrifices the memory of real and tangible suffering and manipulates it in an attempt to superimpose it onto an inequitable circumstance. Borrowing others suffering, especially suffering as great as the Holocaust, to further a cause of one’s own is perhaps the most disingenuous act imaginable and a true measure of the worthiness of one’s cause. If your own suffering cannot stand on it’s own to employ change in behavior or practice, then reexamination of your perceived suffering is warranted.

Perhaps Popper said it best: “No rational argument will have a rational effect on a man who does not want to adopt a rational attitude.”

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