Age of Autism and SafeMinds are made up of individuals who are fervent, true believers. In their heart of hearts, they believe their cause to be right, their actions to be moral, their intentions pure. Against such convictions all who would naysay are, in their minds, at the least sheople and trolls, paid to stand against martyrs to a noble cause, or worse, we are deliberate evil-doers who wish to commit eugenics and kill innocent children.
We cannot prevail in a war against people with this mentality. Even if science and reason do, indeed, prevail, so that all in the world recognize that vaccines, while carrying some risk, are far safer for public health and the average individual than the risks involved in catching infectious and preventable illnesses, they will remain as an island of conviction that the world is against them, that we are the brainwashed masses and that they are the valiant defenders of truth.
So we cannot reach them, no reason is possible, and simply by pointing out that this is true, that their information is factually inaccurate, their conclusions wildly implausible, we are the enemy. The enemy.
Never mind that we also are parents of children with autism and other issues. Never mind that we offer supportive community. We do not walk the same path of convictions and there is, therefore, no mutually respected relationship, no commonality and no support. It is a scorched-earth policy from that side; don't think it's not. The loudest voices, the ones who attract the most followers, are extremists who are trying to dismantled the vaccination program bit by bit.
Fundamentalists, whether they be religious, political, or anti-science, are dangerous.
For accurate information on flu vaccines, don't look to SafeMinds; that's a video designed to inspire fear. It's no different than Mercola's screed from this weekend. It is fearmongering run rampant. If they were not true believers, they would not be proud of this video nor the posts. Instead of going to people who have forsaken reasoning and evidence-based practices, look to the CDC and studies published on PubMed. For a good, science-based piece on flu vaccines by Dr.Crislip, read this Science-Based Medicine piece. Search SBM and you'll find several other highly readable pieces.
While we cannot change fundamentalists' belief systems, we must stand and counter, offering reason and rationality, and above all else, evidence. Let them be an island. A very small one. However, let it also be an island we continue to reach out to, to offer emotional support for them so that, while we firmly reject their belief system, we embrace them and offer our compassion. It's a complicated maneuver, but it's one I work at each day.