February 6, 2015
Neil deGrasse Tyson Wants To School Anti-Vaxxers -- Literally

Neil deGrasse Tyson is known for his blunt way of addressing scientific controversies, but when it comes to people who believe that vaccinations are more harmful than helpful, Tyson wants to school them -- literally.

The Huffington Post recently reached out to the famed astrophysicist in the midst of rising concerns over the number of parents who decline vaccinations for their children. These parents are often referred to as "anti-vaxxers," and as the measles outbreak that began in Disneyland this December worsens, becoming the second-worst measles outbreak in over a decade, the decision to not vaccinate has come under scrutiny.

Unsurprisingly, Neil deGrasse Tyson comes down on firmly on the side of science, which has shown that vaccines are both safe and effective.

But Tyson's reply to the inquiry goes even deeper than parents' decisions not to vaccinate, and targets what he views as the root cause of the anti-vaccination movement.

"Not enough of our society is trained how to understand and interpret quantitative information. This activity is a centerpiece of science literacy to which we should all strive -- the future health, wealth, and security of our democracy depend on it. Until that is achieved, we are at risk of making under-informed decisions that affect ourselves, our communities, our country, and even the world."

The decision whether to vaccinate or not has taken a political turn as of late, as President Obama has urged parents to vaccinate their children, saying that the science behind vaccinations is "clear," while politicians such as Chris Christie have spoken publicly about the need for vaccinations to be a decision left up to parents. Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) took matters a step further when he made a claim about the supposed dangers of vaccines during a CNBC interview on February 2.

"I have heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines. I'm not arguing vaccines are a bad idea. I think they are a good thing, but I think the parent should have some input. The state doesn't own your children. Parents own the children. And it is an issue of freedom and public health."

Paul later walked his comments back slightly, claiming that he "did not say vaccines caused disorders, just that they were temporally related — I did not allege causation."

But to Neil deGrasse Tyson, the biggest causal relation to be concerned about is the idea that science illiteracy is now having actual impacts on people's health and their lives.

Tyson recently tweeted about education with a message that had many educators in an uproar -- click here to read more on that.

What do you think of Neil deGrasse Tyson's response to the growing number of children who do not receive vaccines?

[Image via Huffington Post]