Odd Thoughts: Educated Ignorant get no apology

I don’t blame the education system so much as society’s unrealistic expectations warping what it means to have a university education. Some folks think having a degree means they’re “certified smart.”

We all have things we don’t know, and ignorance is just not knowing something, so we’re all ignorant.

Stupid is not realizing that.

The Educated Ignorant are people who have a piece of paper from a university that has certified that they know something, and they have extrapolated that into an assumption that they know better.

I believe that is at the bottom of the counter-intuitive prevalence of “educated” minions in the anti-vaxxer crowd.

I’ve been asked for an apology from an engineer with an MS (bolstered by his wife’s BS) who didn’t like my lumping anti-vaxxers in with the Educated Ignorant two weeks ago. His feelings were apparently hurt when I said anti-vaxxers are stupid.

I, too, have more than one language. In fact, I even play several musical instruments, and I have written a few pretty nice songs with kick-ass lyrics.

But I don’t actually believe any of that qualifies me to calculate stress loads on bearing beams and cables on major bridges like the Port Mann. Indeed, even the trained engineers didn’t get them all right, and a big chunk of the bridge fell into the Fraser River while they were building it.

Nevertheless, if I ever write a column about bridge-building, designing a new car, or maybe about putting together electrical components to make a machine, I might just call an engineer.

But when I’m discussing vaccines, I really have no choice but to put my trust in the overwhelming evidence presented by epidemiologists and others of the medical persuasion, and maybe add results documented in the historical record.

For instance, I might point out that vaccines not only work a hot-damn, they are safe and they save lives… literally millions of lives.

Vaccines eradicated smallpox and decimated former child-killers measles, mumps, diphtheria… the list is long and healthy. Malaria may be next.

When I was president of my Rotary Club (that probably won’t help me get a bridge-building job either) we were involved in a program called Polio-Plus – an effort spear-headed by Rotary and others to eradicate polio… using vaccines. We expected completion of the project by 2005.

Although we were successful in reducing world-wide polio infections from a million per year to just a few thousand, and then a few hundred, total success eludes us to this day.

It’s not because vaccines don’t work, but because volunteers have been kept from extending them into some areas by anti-vaxxers fuelled by politicians who are not above using the disease to maintain control, by others seeing it as a military strategy, and by still others motivated by distrust born of culture, religion, or ultimately, simple ignorance.

It’s the ignorance of people who should know better that is driving a resurgence of measles and other diseases by withholding vaccinations from innocent children in our neighbourhoods.

If an apology is warranted in this matter, it’s the anti-vaxxers – the Educated Ignorant – who really should apologize to their children and to the communities they put at risk.

Legally, they currently have the right to their “personal choices.”

But morally, I consider it child abuse.


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