The Anti-Vaccine Fallacy

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How does the writer of ‘Jabs myth is literally sickening’ attempt to persuade readers to share her point of view? In the ‘Herald Sun’ opinion piece ‘Jabs myth is literally sickening’ (Monday, May 13, 2013), Rita Panahi structures her piece effectively to alert the public in general, and parents of babies and young children in particular, of the reasons anti-vaccination is a growing and dangerous trend and proposes some hard-nosed remedies. The author’s stance is revealed in the headline. By labelling the anti-vaccination point of view as a myth the reader understands, through the play on words, that this is not only a ‘sickening idea’ but one that it will also lead to unnecessary illness. The reader learns that celebrity Jenny McCarthy has successfully sold the anti-vaccination message during her appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s TV program. Ironically, Panahi uses this 2007 celebrity interview as a hook to attract her reader’s attention to achieve her purpose of persuading us to reject the anti-vaccination message. Panahi’s tone is accusatory but she concedes that McCarthy’s story was “harrowing” and moved Winfrey’s audience to accept that her son was indeed “struck down with ‘vaccine induced’ autism’”. This single anecdote, according to Panahi, led to a significant increase in the number of parents declining to have their children immunised. The reader readily accepts the cause and effect logic of the writer’s argument when she reports that contagious diseases such as measles, mumps and whooping cough were “reappear(ing) and that one quarter of Americans believe that there is a link between vaccines and autism. Panahi sways us to her point of view by asserting here, and substantiating it with evidence later, “that overwhelming scientific research” refutes the vaccination-autism connection. The causal chain takes the anti-vaccination point of view to Australia. The writer encourages us to dismiss the proponents of this view with disparaging epithets labelling them...
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