Sunday, January 13, 2013
Why do some atheists have to be such hard headed “Believers”?
In one chapter of my first book I criticized certain atheists for what I describe as their anal retentive trait for dissecting everything ad nauseum - you know like if you were to greet them with "Nice day, huh?” they’d reply "Oh? Define ‘day’!" Words mean things and we want to be sure we are on the same wave length lest we be talking at cross purposes or using inappropriate and inaccurate terminology. But there comes a point where it becomes an obsession among some atheists. All in all it’s a largely harmless, if a little frustrating, idiosyncrasy.
More recently I noticed another peculiarity that, while not the sole purview of atheists, certainly seems to be deeply engrained among some of our number. I’m referring to a rabid distrust of things that would appear benign to most people. Recently this manifested itself in a discussion on the current flu epidemic and flu shots.
I mentioned on my facebook page that the flu has killed twenty people in New Hampshire thus far this season. Given that the season started early this year, it is expected we will have the highest death rate in over a decade from the disease. Nationally as of this writing 47% of the states are reporting high admissions to hospitals, overwhelming some ERs. The rate of infection has caused the Center for Disease Control to classify it as an epidemic. Boston’s mayor declared a “health emergency.”
Imagine my surprise when my suggestion to my facebook friends that they protect themselves and loved ones and get their flu shots, as my wife and I did back in October, was met with outright indignation by perhaps a third of respondents to the comment. I was accused of having “drunk the Kool Aid.” handed to me by some Jim Jonesish consortium of the pharmaceutical industry, health care experts, and the government. Although not clearly defined by these skeptical folks, they seemed to imply it was a money making scheme at best, or an attempt to infect us with some “live virus” for an obscure and unnamed purpose at worst. I was waiting for but mercifully never heard the theory that this flu hype was a way for the government to obtain and file our DNA, although I suspect some number of them did harbor that meme.
If these weren’t atheists, one and all, I’d have half expected one of them to declare that Big Brother wanted to steal their soul, or mark them with the sign of the Beast.
It gets worse. Although zero evidence exists for it, and it has been debunked universally by medical science, I’ve repeatedly seen otherwise reasoned atheists say that childhood inoculations (i.e. smallpox, polio, whooping cough, et al) are the cause of autism. One of my fb contacts said she won’t get a tetanus shot and won’t let them inoculate her children. I consider that almost as bad as a faith healer or Christian Scientist who would refuse state of the art medical care in favor of faith. Both are delusional.
Skepticism is a good thing, it’s what makes atheists freethinkers; what separates us from the religionists and the woo-woo New Agers. But once we get hooked on some kind of irrational suspicion of medical science, ignoring history and fact, preferring to embrace some unsupportable conspiracy theory or a manufactured plot with no supporting evidence, we are no better than the religious who embrace blind belief over reason. And like fundamentalist blind belief, it’s no longer just a harmless idiosyncrasy; it becomes dangerous, potentially for everyone.
Go get your damn flu shot. It’s 62% effective, and even if you are among those who contract a strain of the flu after the inoculation your symptoms would be greatly reduced. If not for yourself… do it for your family and friends you’re liable to infect. Besides, the government needs some of your life force for a very special ...OOPs... nevermind that last part!