Everybody now, say it with me, correlation is not causation

Thom Barker takes up the cause of voluntarily vaccinating

Correlation is not necessarily causation.

Let me say that again because it seems like there is a growing number of people out there who never got the memo.

Correlation is not necessarily causation.

Back in the day, when my parents, and all my friends’ parents, and just about everybody in the Western world, were dutifully trundling us down to the doctor’s office or public health clinic or school gymnasium to get our shots, we took it for granted that things like polio and measles and whooping cough were a thing of the past. Relics of a time when humans lacked the technology—yes vaccines are technology—to prevent these awful diseases.

You will note that I purposefully included the word ‘necessarily’ in the statement at the top of this column, both times. That’s because there are cases where correlation is causation.

Here’s a really good example of that: vaccinations.

Before we had the vaccines for polio and measles and whooping cough, people were constantly getting terribly sick and dying from these awful diseases. After the vaccines, they were all but eradicated.

But we didn’t just randomly say, ‘oh look, these terrible diseases are gone, must be the vaccines.’

No, researchers proved by the scientific method, before, during and after the fact, that it was not just that the viruses and/or bacteria naturally went away—or that some unseen deity decided to take pity on we puny humans—it was the vaccine.

Sure, there were pockets in underdeveloped countries where these diseases persisted, but here, where we had the wealth and the medical system to ensure public safety, we enjoyed an all too brief virtually disease-free period.

Sure, there were holdouts in the West, faith-healing communities and the like, who resisted on religious grounds, but they were a fringe element that didn’t really have an impact on the larger population.

If you don’t trust science and want to say, ‘well, God created the scientists who developed the vaccines,’ I really don’t care. By the process of science or the grace of God, we have them and they work.

Now, here’s a prime example of a case in which correlation is not causation: vaccinations and autism.

Of course, the modern anti-vax movement is much more complex than the oversimplification I am about to make. Parental anxiety over sticking babies with needles is understandable, and there is a tiny number of people who cannot be immunized for medical reasons.

Nevertheless, the current outbreaks of measles in B.C. and elsewhere, do stem from an anti-vaccination movement the origin of which can be traced to the notorious British physician Andrew Wakefield and a handful of celebrity crackpots, most notably Jenny McCarthy, who either fraudulently asserted or innocently mistook correlation for causation.

It cannot be stated too often or too loudly that the study linking autism and vaccinations was fraudulent. Wakefield has been discredited time and time again, stripped of his medical licence and disgraced in all but the most virulent of true believing circles.

It is appalling that B.C. and many other jurisdictions are being forced to develop legislation to make immunizations mandatory. It should not be necessary and somewhat uncomfortably raises personal liberty issues, but that is where we are.

We should save our government officials the trouble and voluntarily participate in this life-saving practice.

Don’t be a Jenny McCarthy, get your kids vaccinated.

Just Posted

Muheim class repeats 2017 award for interaction with seniors

Liliana Pesce’s Grade 4-5 class honoured by BC Retired Teachers Association

Bulkley Valley U14 boys soccer squad wins zones

The Rapids will now proceed to provincial championship in Prince George July 4-5

Donaldson announces seal coating for portions of Hwy 16, Kispiox

Two sections of road in the Bulkley Valley have had their fate sealed.

Smithers man receives two-year sentence for fatal car crash

Over a year after a fatal crash, a Smithers man has been sentenced to two years plus a day in jail.

VIDEO: First Nations, developer call for return and protection of sacred B.C. burial site

Dozens of First Nations leaders gather on grassy plateau to call on action by provincial government

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

Teen stabbed after end-of-night limo dispute in downtown Vancouver

A young man, 19, is in serious condition following a dispute between two groups

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

B.C. Interior First Nation family ‘heartbroken’ over loss of young mom

RCMP have released no new information since the June 8, 2019 homicide

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

No business case for Trans Mountain expansion, says former environment minister

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday

LETTER: British Columbia’s forest industry crisis being made worse

Andrew Wilkinson warns of regulatory overload by John Horgan’s NDP

Most Read