“It just feels better and safer to me”

FeelingsThe Sunday edition of The Los Angeles Times included a story about Bob Sears, an Orange County pediatrician who provides comfort to parents who doubt the efficacy of vaccinations for their children. Although he claims not to be an anti-vaxxer himself, about half of his patients forgo them entirely and he offers his own alternative and selective vaccination schedules to the others, which delay or eliminate a variety of immunizations that science strongly supports.

“We eliminated endemic measles in the U.S. in 2000. It’s now 2014 and we’re at 400 cases. Why?” Dr. Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said in an interview in June (the number of cases has risen by another 50 percent since). “Because people listen to Bob Sears. And, frankly, I blame him far more than I do the Jenny McCarthys of this world. Because he’s a doctor. And he should know more.” As the Times reports, Sears and his ilk are having an impact. “California parents are choosing to forgo vaccinating their kindergarten-age children at twice the rate they did seven years ago, a fact public health experts said is contributing to the re-emergence of measles and could lead to outbreaks of other diseases.”

I was struck by the article’s concluding line, which was a quote from a mother anxious about vaccinations for her young children and apparently desperate for someone to tell her that delaying or avoiding them is okay. “It’s not really research-based,” she said. “It just feels better and safer to me.”

In life generally and in the investing world, avoiding the findings of careful research on account of “a feeling” is extremely dangerous business. We all tend to like to follow feelings, ideologies, herds and stories instead of good data. Doing so is in our nature. But if we want to maximize the likelihood of positive outcomes, we need to be data-driven at every level and all the time.


4 thoughts on ““It just feels better and safer to me”

  1. The problem is “pro-vaccine” data is corrupted. Ask Paul Offit about the CDC whistle-blower … oh wait … there isn’t much coverage of that story yet. Measles is survivable. Vaccine risk is real. Yes, the diseases are dangerous and sometimes deadly, but the true cost/benefit has been distorted. The safety of vaccines is like Iraqi WMD, lots of powerful people are saying it’s so, but that doesn’t make it so.

  2. I have a friend that will not vaccinate his kids because one of his cousins has autism. His doctors have refused to see him and I have no idea how he got his kids in the schools they are. Why would you let your kids walk around and possibily be exposed to polio, smallpox, and all those other horrible other diseases we defeated?

  3. Source material on CDC whistle-blower (please review and decide for yourself):




    additional background:


    Vaccine science has been corrupted by money and politics. It’s happened in finance, education, resource management, agriculture, etc. Why can’t it be happening in medicine ? I’m not a conspiracy theorist and I’m not a cynic, I’m a skeptic, and there’s plenty to be skeptical about.

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