Hate Mail I Have Received

Friends, today is a milestone for me. I received my first hate mail. I really feel it is important for people to have all the facts and see opposing viewpoints. And I believe that is true of me and my work. As such, I am happy to share with you my first hate mail. This was sent to an individual with a blog on Mormon history and who had written a post on vaccination. Here was what I wrote in my first contact:

“Hi! I read your post from February on vaccination and I am impressed with your willingness to consider open discussion and your tolerance towards your reader whose children had negative vaccine reactions. If you are interested in this topic further, I invite you to come read my blog.  I have also left a comment on your  blog post as well.

The vast majority of information in my writing actually comes from pro-vaccine sources. I do not use or cite Andrew Wakefield in any of my writings. (His research is largely unnecessary in formulating a logical argument against vaccination.) I do not use or cite information from cites like whale.to and for the record, I do not ascribe to conspiracy theories about the Holocaust, moon landing or September 11. (There is an abundance of evidence which point to the Holocaust and the moon landing having taken place and the September 11 attacks being perpetrated by the Taliban.) Most of my sources are books on epidemiology, immunology or vaccinology, reputable news media articles, records from the Office of Vital Statistics, web pages from the Centers for Disease Control and science and medical journals. 

Of particular interest to you might be my post on smallpox and my series of posts especially for Latter Day Saints about vaccination, the first of the series of four is here. You also might find my post on tetanus interesting. You mentioned vaccine resistance in 1901. That was the year that several cases of fatal tetanus cases broke out because of contaminated diphtheria antitoxin and smallpox vaccines. I am also sending you a download of my ebook on vaccination and Latter Day Saints. I do have a storefront where I sell downloads of it and my other writings, but I will give one away for free to anyone who asks. It is my sincerest belief that people need to have accurate information to make an informed decision and I want to help anyone who is interested. Please do not reproduce any part of this ebook without my permission.
I don’t expect to change your position on vaccination, but I do hope to change your perception of people who refuse to vaccinate and give you a broader view of some of the issues associated with vaccination and disease.”
This individual responded with the following:
“Thanks for sending your material … but it is not going to happen. You have even less excuse in 2015 for your blind, unreasoning, superstitious and deliberately delusional thinking than did the people in 1901.  Your active promotion of delusion kills.”
To which I responded:
“Have you read anything I have written? Have you examined any of my sources? If you have not taken the time to examine my point of view, then you can not legitimately say that I am blind, unreasoning, superstitious, deliberately delusional and a killer.  You ask for people to be tolerant of your views, you should be willing to return the favor. If your stance on vaccination is as sounds as you believe than you certainly have nothing to fear from reading opposing views. All the same I wish you well. “
To which this individual responded:

“I don’t ask for toleration for my views — as someone who writes Mormon history from a faithful perspective, there is no shortage of people who disagree with me. I don’t care whether they tolerate my views or not.

Neither do I grant use of my blog as a public platform for a superstitious ideological position that kills. The position of anti-vaxxers, whether they are Jenny McCarthyites or have their own particular delusions — is a position that kills.

You may find my response to be offensive. Opposition to vaccination is not merely an opinion or a preference. It is a call to action that demonstrably causes harm, not only to the most innocent of victims but to civilized society as a whole. I find that too offensive to require tip-toeing around hurt feelings.”

  I wrote:
“I didn’t ask you to tip-toe around feelings, merely to examine another viewpoint and to respond respectfully. As for your blog, it is your online space and you are free to accept or delete comments as you see fit. And as such you are free to promote your particular views. Again I wish you well.”
And subsequently received:
“Golly gee whiz. I’m glad I have your permission to use my space as I see fit, and not to turn it over to Flat Earthers, birthers, truthers, anti-vaxxers, and other willfully delusional people.”
And replied:
“Sir, you don’t need my permission for anything. My warmest regards to you.”
As Dale Carnegie said, “No one kicks a dead dog.” If I’m getting kicked, it means I’m actually having an effect!



Special Note: I have entered the 21st century and am now on Twitter @epidemicfacts1. Got a question? Looking for data? Tweet me and I can get back to you there. You can also email me epidemic facts (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Diphtheria is one of those diseases that doesn’t get much press- unlike measles and pertussis. So why do we vaccinate for diphtheria? Well, this is one of those diseases that many people actually did die from 100+ years ago.

The bacteria Cornybacterium diphtheriae causes diphtheria. It primarily infects the mucous membranes of the nose and throat. Breathing problems and heart and nerve damage can all complicate diphtheria and cause death.  The Mayo Clinic explains that diphteria used to be lethal in about 3% of cases. The Office of Vital Statisitcs from 1953 shows a death rate of approximately 30 per 100,000 from diphtheria in 1900– most of which were children under 15. (It’s worth noting that this report shows typhoid to have actually been deadlier than diphtheria- and the decrease in typhoid deaths has not been attributed to a mass vaccination program. Another example from history of how vaccines may be one way, but not the only or best way to control infectious diseases.)

The introduction of diphtheria antitoxin in 1900 is credited with drastically reducing deaths from diphtheria- when it wasn’t causing them. In 1901, diphtheria antitoxin made from a horse infected with tetanus was given to children who subsequently developed tetanus and died.

The DTP vaccine came into usage in 1920, but death rates from diphtheria had already dropped dramatically. In 1900 the death rate from diphtheria was about 30 per 100,000, but by 1920 it had dropped to about 8 per 100,000. Between 1920 and 1930, the death rate from diphtheria dropped slightly from about 8 per 100,000 to about 5 per 100,000 and the slowly declined to <1 per 100,000 in 1950. Also of interest from the CDC on diphtheria: “Circulation appears to continue in some settings even in populations with more than 80% childhood immunization rates. An asymptomatic carrier state can exist even among immune individuals.” In other words, diphtheria is still circulating and you may have it and not even know it.