Donald Trump is technically the Republican candidate in the 2016 election for President of the United States. There’s a lot that he says that disgusts me personally, and the public generally. But there’s one area that may indicate the depth of his ignorance. Donald Trump and vaccines – his views are just plain wrong.
Trump isn’t alone on this matter – dangerous comments about vaccines were made by Republican presidential candidates during the campaign. Ben Carson (ironically, a neurosurgeon) and Rand Paul (we’ve laughed at his vaccine denial before) also pontificated about the dangers of vaccines.
I’ve written previously about Republican candidate’s views on vaccines, back before we actually thought that Donald Trump had a real chance to become the Republican nominee. Feels like eons ago.
As I wrote recently, there’s really only a slight, probably not statistically significant, difference between the acceptance of mandatory vaccination. So the views of Donald Trump and vaccines is way over on the side of crackpot. This is why we can’t have good things.
Let’s look at some the things that Trump has said about vaccines on Twitter, his preferred method of communicating.
Donald Trump and vaccines – Twitter
Massive combined inoculations to small children is the cause for big increase in autism….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2012
Autism WAY UP – I believe in vaccinations but not massive, all at once, shots. Too much for small child to handle. Govt. should stop NOW!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 27, 2014
I'm not against vaccinations for your children, I'm against them in 1 massive dose.Spread them out over a period of time & autism will drop!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 4, 2014
I am being proven right about massive vaccinations—the doctors lied. Save our children & their future.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2014
Each of those statements have been and continue to be refuted by the enormous amount of scientific evidence – vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines are unrelated to autism. There is no correlation between vaccines and autism. How many different ways should we parse this?
Across the blogosphere, science writers have attacked Trump’s views on vaccines. Emily Willingham. Steven Salzburg. The secretive Orac, who has been pointing out Trump’s ignorance on vaccines for several years. The Washington Post. I could go on forever.
Annoyingly, there is a broad swath of vaccine deniers who continue to make this claim, despite the overwhelming amount of evidence. Just read the replies to each of Trump’s vaccine tweets, and you’ll see the pervasiveness of the ignorance of the facts surrounding vaccines and autism.
Vaccines prevent diseases, ones that can cause grave harm to children. This is a scientific fact. Vaccines have extraordinarily low rates of minor adverse events, far below the rates of many simple medical procedures. This is a scientific fact. This ignorance of the safety and effectiveness of vaccines would be laughable, if it didn’t put children at risk of dangerous diseases.
Donald Trump’s attitudes about vaccines are just some of his science denying beliefs. He thinks that climate change is a hoax (unless it affects his golf courses). His opinions about evolution appear to be in line with most Republicans, although it may just be political expediency rather than actual belief.
Although I am not a single-issue voter, science ranks at the top of the issues that matter to me. Science denialism generally indicates a high level of ignorance about a lot of issues – facts and evidence don’t matter, unless it’s cherry picked facts and evidence.
Reminder – vaccines don’t cause autism
There is powerful evidence that vaccines are unrelated to autism. Powerful evidence that thimerosal never was related to autism. Powerful evidence that vaccine deniers have got to stop yelling about vaccines causing autism.
Donald Trump, in all of his pure ignorance, ignores all of that powerful evidence because it probably makes him appear to be populist. But a huge majority of Americans support mandatory vaccination, so I’m not sure how populist it can be.