Clay Adams | September 17th, 2015
Since my early days in tabloid journalism, one thing became obvious (other than that becoming a chain smoking, alcohol-laden ass wasn’t going to be a foundation for a good career) – sensational sells!
By that, I mean the more controversial you are the more likely people will remember you. Think Mylie Cyrus or Donald Trump. Actually, don’t. The less said about them the better. As a young journo on a Sunday smut rag paper, it was all about taking a snippet of gossip and turning it into story that would make at least some of readers think that gossip was true. It was called a “beat up”.
We lived by a creed that facts should never get in the way of a good story and a beat up (meaning, I suppose, that we would beat up the truth) was always a great way to pull readers. It also showed that a percentage of the population, if fed the right way, will believe almost anything.
• It seems 35 percent of Americans believe homosexuality is a lifestyle choice while 13 percent still think being gay stems from how you are raised. Given that only slightly more think Donald Trump would make a great US President and you can start to see a pattern here.
• A third of Americans believe evolution is a myth, saying that “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.” It seems God woke up one day, made us all and moved on. If I’d known, I’d have asked for the George Clooney model rather than what I ended up with.
• While almost 90 percent of scientists say genetically modified foods are “generally safe” to eat, only 37 percent of the public believes them. Being an “expert” means nothing it seems. Ironic considering eight out of 10 Americans eat at fast-food restaurants at least once a month – presumably, only at those which don’t sell genetically modified foods. Wherever they are.
• One in four Americans believe the Sun revolves around the Earth. Why? Well, because it does. This number is also close to those who believe Trump would make a great President. Just sayin’.
• Cell phones cause cancer, or at least 20 percent believe they do. Another 40 percent aren’t sure, which means they also think they do but are afraid to admit it. Again, there is countless evidence to show this belief is false (http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/radiation/cell-phones-fact-sheet) yet tinfoil fedoras remain mandatory for some. At the same time, 25 percent admit to texting while driving. I know which one I’m more scared about.
• And finally, the really frightening one is that only 44 percent of Americans are confident that flu vaccines don’t cause autism. That means over 60 percent have doubts about the safety of the flu vaccine – much of which stems from a single “scientific” report that was subsequently discredited as a fraud.
The latter is a classic example of how one person’s bogus science is latched onto by wannabe believers and taken as truth. We used to say in my journalistic days that for every false story your write, a percentage will believe it to be true – even if it was clearly not based on fact.
So I can only image how the conspiracy theorists are reacting to news from my former-homeland that Australia is about to pass a law that will withhold child care and other payments from families that fail to immunize their kids.
The “No Jab, No Pay” Bill was introduced back in April removes the ability for people to object to immunization if they want to continue to receive such payments which, for some Aussie families, could amount to around $15,000 annually in child and tax benefits. The only way to opt out would be for valid medical reasons.
So, do I think this is a good thing?
At the risk of ticking off a bunch of people – I do. While I don’t like the concept of people facing financial hardship, it is about time people recognized the science that shows immunization is safe. The merits of immunization are far-reaching, not just for the recipient but the entire population. And if you think otherwise, you’re wrong.
What do you think?
Of course, whether Australia’s no jab, no pay approach is something we should adopt here remains open to debate. We Aussies aren’t necessarily known for our political correctness, so ticking people off here and there is kind of ingrained in our culture.
But would a no jab, no pay strategy work here? You tell me.